Psychological Adaptation to the Threats and Stresses of a Four Degree World

Extensive social scientific research into human reactions to threats provides some insights into the psychological strategies humans are likely to adopt in response to the stresses of living in a hotter world. These “coping strategies” are designed to defend against or manage the unpleasant emotions associated with “waking up” to the dangers of a warming globe. We group coping strategies into three types. Denial strategies aim primarily at suppressing anxiety associated with predictions of climate disruption by not allowing the facts to be accepted into the conscious mind. Maladaptive coping strategies are deployed to blunt the emotional impact of the facts about climate change. Adaptive coping strategies are used when the person accepts both the facts and the accompanying emotions, and then tries to act on the basis of both.  (Co-authored with Tim Kasser.)


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