Not all boomers: temporal orientation explains inter- and intra-cultural variability in the link between age and climate engagement

Nathaniel Geiger, Bryan McLaughlin, John Velez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Some previous work suggests that older adults, relative to younger adults and teenagers, are less engaged with climate change; yet, this pattern is not consistently found across all countries or populations. Here, we consider whether temporal orientation might act as a boundary condition for age effects on climate change engagement. We assess whether cultural (study 1) and inter-individual (study 2) differences in temporal orientation moderate the tendency for older adults to be less engaged with climate change than younger adults. Study 1 (N = 44,387) reveals that among European countries, countries with a greater long-term orientation tend to show a weaker (i.e., less negative) relationship between age and the salience of climate change (i.e., cognitive engagement with the topic). Study 2 (N = 798) demonstrates that in the USA, the negative relationship between age and climate action intentions becomes smaller in magnitude (i.e., less negative) among those higher in consideration of future consequences, but increases in those higher in consideration of immediate consequences. These findings support the notion that it is a confluence of age and present orientation (and low future orientation) that that drives age-related declines in climate engagement.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12
JournalClimatic Change
Volume166
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2021

Keywords

  • Age
  • Climate change engagement
  • Consideration of future consequences
  • Socioemotional selectivity theory
  • Temporal orientation

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