Supporters of climate change science face self-doubt in study

April 23, 2014 by Greta Guest

(Phys.org) —Supporting an issue such as climate change can be a daunting task, so what keeps advocates going while avoiding burnout?

New research from Jane Dutton, professor of management and organizations at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, found that even the most fervent supporters of a social issue—in this case, —face self-doubts.

It's one of the first studies to examine a social issue supporter in multiple contexts to paint a full picture of the obstacles faced in their lives.

"Commitment to supporting like climate change is often a long-term deal with few clear indicators of success and progress," said Dutton, who also is a professor of psychology and the Robert L. Kahn Distinguished Professor at U-M. "We were interested in the bigger story of what keeps social issue supporters psychologically in the game."

Dutton's study, "It's Not Easy Being Green: The Role of Self-Evaluations in Explaining Support of Environmental Issues," was co-authored by Scott Sonenshein of Rice University and Katherine DeCelles of the University of Toronto and was published in the Academy of Management Journal.

"People don't leave their environmental selves at the door when they move across the domains in their lives," Dutton said. "Only by considering the fuller life of social issue supporters could we understand both the challenges they faced and how they created the psychological fuel to keep believing in themselves."

They need to see themselves as having the knowledge and experience to be helpful to the cause, she said. The rub is that these are subjective self-assessments and depend heavily on how they see themselves. Yet social issue advocates who were acting in consistently supportive ways saw themselves in more self-affirming ways.

"I think our research reminds social issue supporters to broaden the lens for how they see and evaluate themselves and consider a full range of assets they bring to the table," Dutton said.

Explore further: Slackers unite: How fundraisers convert social supporters into socially active citizens

More information: The study is available online: webuser.bus.umich.edu/janedut/Additional%20PDFs/It%27s%20Not%20Easy%20Being%20Green.pdf

Related Stories

It's not easy 'being green', study says

December 2, 2013

Think you don't recycle enough? You're not alone. However, people's ability to overcome self-doubt plays a critical role in how successfully they act in support of environmental issues, according to a new study co-authored ...

Recommended for you

Amateur paleontologist finds rare fossil of fish in Arizona

September 3, 2015

Growing up, Stephanie Leco often would dig in her backyard and imagine finding fossils of a tyrannosaurus rex. She was fascinated with the idea of holding something in her hand that was millions of years old and would give ...

X-rays reveal fossil secrets

September 3, 2015

A sophisticated imaging technique has allowed scientists to virtually peer inside a 10-million-year-old sea urchin, uncovering a treasure trove of hidden fossils.

Early human diet explains our eating habits

August 31, 2015

Much attention is being given to what people ate in the distant past as a guide to what we should eat today. Advocates of the claimed palaeodiet recommend that we should avoid carbohydrates and load our plates with red meat ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

COCO
1 / 5 (1) Apr 24, 2014
it is all about following the Green i.e. money - these eco- janissaries can be spotted - look for guilty gills while feeding

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.