University of Twente Student Theses


Distress and coping strategies in a time of overwhelming climate change news

Borgelt, L.B. (2020) Distress and coping strategies in a time of overwhelming climate change news.

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Abstract:Background: The framing of climate change news as well as the complex nature of the problem itself can cause distress for people. Yet little is known about the prevalence of such distress and about how people cope with climate news. It is assumed that the intensity of climate news exposure can influence the way people cope with climate news which in turn is likely to influence the distress experienced. Aim: The aim of this study was to test the association between exposure to climate news and climate distress and whether coping strategies function as mediators in this relation. Method: The study was part of a larger correlational survey conducted by a group of students. In total, 188 people took part of which 169 completed all questionnaires relevant to this research. For this study the variables climate news exposure, ecological coping strategies and climate distress were assessed. Results: Average climate news exposure was between four to six days a week and moderate levels of climate distress (M = 2.11, SD = .67) were prevalent in the sample. Higher climate news exposure was associated with increased problem focussed coping (r = 0.38, p<0.01) and decreased denial (r = -.28, p<0.01). Further, higher climate news exposure was associated with increased distress (r = 0.39, p<0.01); this association was mediated by problem-focussed coping and denial. Problem-focussed coping increased levels of climate distress (r = 0.34, p<0.05) and denial decreased (r = -.33, p<0.01) levels of distress. Conclusion: Higher climate news exposure is associated with increased concern for global environmental problems, an increased tendency to take action and belief in climate change. These findings highlight the role of the news in fostering awareness for global environmental problems, but future experimental research is needed to examine the causality of the association.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology BSc (56604)
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