Comprehension of climate change and environmental attitudes across the lifespan

Christina Degen, Helen Fischer, Joachim Funke, Timo Goeschl, Sara Kettner, Johannes Lohse, Christiane Schwieren, Johannes Schröder

Research output: Contribution to conference (unpublished)Paperpeer-review


Given the coincidence of the demographic change and climate change in the upcoming decades the aging voter gains increasing importance in climate change mitigation and adaptation processes. It is generally assumed that information status and comprehension of complex processes underlying climate change are prerequisites for adopting pro-environmental attitudes and taking pro-environmental actions. In a cross-sectional study, we investigated in how far (1) environmental knowledge and comprehension of feedback processes underlying climate change and (2) pro-environmental attitudes change as a function of age. Our sample consisted of 92 participants aged 25–75 years (mean age 49.4 years, SD 17.0). Age was negatively related to comprehension of system structures inherent to climate change, but positively associated with level of fear of consequences and anxiousness towards climate change. No significant relations were found between environmental knowledge and pro-environmental attitude. These results indicate that, albeit understanding of relevant structures of the climate system is less present in older age, age is not a limiting factor for being engaged in the complex dilemma of climate change. Results bear implications for the communication of climate change and pro-environmental actions in aging societies.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2014


  • Climate change
  • Age
  • Cognitive capacity
  • System thinking
  • Pro-environmental attitude


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