Research has shown that self-affirmation often leads to more adaptive responses to messages that focus on behavior-specific, individual threats. However, little is known about the effects of self-affirmation in the context of an ongoing collective threat, such as climate change. In the study reported here (N ¼ 90), the authors examined whether self-affirmation might polarize orientations toward environment-related actions when people rely on their established beliefs about climate change. The authors found that self-affirmation led to more constructive pro-environmental motives among participants with positive ecological worldviews but led to less constructive pro-environmental motives among participants with negative ecological worldviews. These findings suggest that in the absence of a persuasive threatening message, self-affirmation might serve to validate a person’s initial worldviews about environmental issues.
Social Psychological and Personality Science
Department of Media and Communication

van Prooijen, A-M, Sparks, P., & Jessop, D. C. (2013). Promoting or jeopardizing lighter carbon footprints? Self-affirmation can polarize environmental orientations. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 4, 238–243. Retrieved from