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

More information: The study is available online: webuser.bus.umich.edu/janedut/ … %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 ...

Context switching in daily life stresses us, study finds

March 6, 2014

Transitioning frequently between social settings, such as from home to office or changing social roles from parent to employee, can be a particularly stressful daily hassle, says a new Cornell study published in the Social ...

Recommended for you

How to cut your lawn for grasshoppers

November 22, 2017

Picture a grasshopper landing randomly on a lawn of fixed area. If it then jumps a certain distance in a random direction, what shape should the lawn be to maximise the chance that the grasshopper stays on the lawn after ...

Plague likely a Stone Age arrival to central Europe

November 22, 2017

A team of researchers led by scientists at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History has sequenced the first six European genomes of the plague-causing bacterium Yersinia pestis dating from the Late Neolithic ...

Ancient barley took high road to China

November 21, 2017

First domesticated 10,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East, wheat and barley took vastly different routes to China, with barley switching from a winter to both a winter and summer crop during a thousand-year ...

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.