As a kind of environmental educational program, the climate change education (CCE) aims to promote scientific facts to problem-solving skills, action competence, and advocacy. Climate change affects humankind globally while the people most vulnerable to its impacts are children and youth in developing countries. Hence, effective CCE for teenagers is an urgent requirement.
In a study published in Climatic Change, researchers from Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (XTBG) tried to explore how emotions of fear or hope affect curriculum-based CCE. They designed a curriculum focusing on factual knowledge of the climatic change, coupled with a video clip pro for the knowledge lectures intended to instill emotions of fear or hope as manipulated treatments.
In order to explore how emotions affect self-reported mitigation behavior toward climate change, the researchers conducted a 2-week CCE program with the support of video clips to induce emotions such as fear and/or hope through the manipulated treatments. They then compared the emotions between emotion plus lecture group and lecture-only group for adolescents.
The study involved 1730 students from nine middle schools in three coastal cities (Xiamen, Shenzhen, and Ningbo) in China.
The emotion-manipulating experiment showed that negative emotions may weaken mitigation behavior and knowledge may be the key factor that improves adolescents’ pro-environmental behavior. In detail, the lecture-only group presented the most significant mitigation behavioral change among the three treatments. Induced fear in lecture treatment decreased changes in self-reported mitigation behavior, particularly on the change in emission reduction activities among adolescents. Hope plus lecture treatment did not show a significant impact on the mitigation of behavioral change compared to the lecture-only groups.
The study indicated that fear has a negative impact on the mitigation of behavioral changes compared to the lecture-only group. Fear neither increased students’ concern about climate change nor improved their involvement in climate change.
“This brings new insight that highlights a more prudential consideration needed for bringing emotion into CCE among adolescents,” said Prof. CHEN Jin of XTBG.
CHEN Jin Ph.D Principal Investigator
CAS Key Laboratory of Tropical Forest Ecology, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Mengla, 666303, Yunnan, China