Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Challenge of System Justification for Acknowledging and Responding to Environmental Dilemmas and Climate Change
by Feygina, Irina, Ph.D., New York University, 2012, 148; 3546399
Abstract (Summary)

Despite extensive evidence of climate change and environmental destruction, polls continue to reveal widespread denial and resistance to helping the environment. In the present line of research, I posit that these responses are linked to the motivational tendency to defend and justify the societal status quo in the face of the threat posed by environmental problems. Findings confirm that system justification tendencies are associated with greater denial of environmental realities and less commitment to pro-environmental action. These relationships are observed for social and economic system justification, as well as ideologies that serve a system-justifying function, including opposition to equality and the Protestant work ethic. Moreover, the effects of political conservatism, national identification, gender, and education on denial of environmental problems are partly explained by variability in system justification tendencies. However, we find that it is possible to attenuate, and even eliminate, the negative effect of system justification on environmentalism by 1) affirming the system in the face of threat posed by environmental problems, and 2) encouraging people to regard pro-environmental change as patriotic and consistent with protecting the status quo (i.e., as a case of "system-sanctioned change"). In addition, preliminary findings from China suggest that government sanctioned ideologies that encourage pro-environmental attitudes and behaviors are effective in raising environmentalism among the public. Theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Jost, John T.
Commitee: Deaux, Kay, Trope, Yaacov, Tyler, Tom, Wener, Richard
School: New York University
Department: Psychology
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-B 74/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Climate Change, Social psychology, Communication, Environmental Studies
Keywords: Behavior change, Conservation psychology, Denial and indifference, Environmental attitudes and behaviors, Environmental sustainability, System justification
Publication Number: 3546399
ISBN: 978-1-267-79958-6
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