Local is not always better: the impact of climate information on values, behavior and policy support

Jonas J. Schoenefeld, Michelle R. McCauley

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In the current research, we experimentally examined the effect of providing local or global information about the impacts of climate change on individuals’ perceived importance of climate change and on their willingness to take action to address it, including policy support. We examined these relationships in the context of individuals’ general value orientations. Our findings, from 99 US residents, suggest that different kinds of climate information (local, global, or none) interact with values vis-à-vis our dependent variables. Specifically, while self-transcendent values predict perceived importance and pro-environmental behavior across all three information conditions, the effect on policy support is less clear. Furthermore, we detected a “reactance effect” where individuals with self-enhancing values who read local information thought that climate change was less important and were less willing to engage in pro-environmental behavior and support policy than self-enhancing individuals in the other information conditions. These results suggest that policy makers and public communicators may want to be cognizant of their audience’s general value orientation. Local information may not only be ineffective but may also prove counterproductive with individuals whose value orientations are more self-enhancing than self-transcendent.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)724–732
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Environmental Studies and Sciences
Issue number4
Early online date30 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016


  • Climate change
  • Local/global climate information
  • Values
  • Pro-environmental behaviour
  • Climate policy
  • Policy support

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