Children can foster climate change concern among their parents

Danielle F. Lawson, Kathryn T. Stevenson, M. Nils Peterson, Sarah J. Carrier, Renee L. Strnad, Erin Seekamp

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

Abstract

The collective action that is required to mitigate and adapt to climate change is extremely difficult to achieve, largely due to socio-ideological biases that perpetuate polarization over climate change1,2. Because climate change perceptions in children seem less susceptible to the influence of worldview or political context3, it may be possible for them to inspire adults towards higher levels of climate concern, and in turn, collective action4. Child-to-parent intergenerational learning—that is, the transfer of knowledge, attitudes or behaviours from children to parents5—may be a promising pathway to overcoming socio-ideological barriers to climate concern5. Here we present an experimental evaluation of an educational intervention designed to build climate change concern among parents indirectly through their middle school-aged children in North Carolina, USA. Parents of children in the treatment group expressed higher levels of climate change concern than parents in the control group. The effects were strongest among male parents and conservative parents, who, consistent with previous research1, displayed the lowest levels of climate concern before the intervention. Daughters appeared to be especially effective in influencing parents. Our results suggest that intergenerational learning may overcome barriers to building climate concern.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)458-462
Number of pages5
JournalNature Climate Change
Volume9
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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