Climate complacency reflects cultural values of nations

Elsevier, Current Research in Ecological and Social Psychology, Volume 5, January 2023
Bentley R.A., Borycz J., Horne B.D.

Here we present evidence, from survey data aggregated in sixteen developed nations, that cultural values predict levels of climate complacency, or a relative lack of concern about climate change. We explore which cultural or socioeconomic factors from these nations correlate significantly with climate complacency, firstly through a series of bivariate ordinary least squares regressions. Next, we use the first principal component from each group of variables as a composite index representing the socio-economics and cultural characteristics, respectively, of each country, which are regressed against a measure of climate complacency as the dependent variable. Cultural values exhibit the largest effects on climate complacency, followed by socioeconomic factors. These results are broadly supported by comparison of the same factors against a more recent, independent, survey measuring climate concern in 28 countries. Given that cultural values are more associated with the decade of birth of the participants than they are with the date the survey was conducted, we suggest that attitudes toward climate change will also evolve similarly, through generational change. As extreme climate events increase in this century, however, period change may overtake generational change in increasing concern over climate change worldwide.