Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 5-10-2017

Faculty Advisor(s)

Dr. Steven Schandler


Within the current political landscape, environmental issues such as global climate change are not without their controversies. Though novel relative to other physical sciences, climate and environmental sciences demonstrate opportunities within and beyond their formal disciplines to shape our ecological legacy. The fields of social psychology as well as environmental psychology, with its various subdisciplines including conservation psychology, ecopsychology and human ecology among others, promise relevance to political and social decision-making regarding our environmental health. This thesis isolates and examines factors affecting an individual’s perceptions of climate change and its associated risks. Specifically this project examines the implications that social and ideological variables have on the temporal discounting of climate change. It was hypothesized that if an individual has high system justification relating to the current economic system or high social dominance orientation, then they will discount the future of climate change at a higher rate than an individual who has low system justification relating to the current economic system or lower social dominance orientation. The hypothesis was tested by locating and analyzing existing research within the fields of psychology and climate sciences. The thesis hypothesis was supported. The findings indicated that individuals with high system justification discounted climate change more than those with low system justification. There was a significant relationship between system justification and social dominance orientation, as well as a demonstration of social dominance orientation being a significant predictor of climate change denial. Overall, the findings show both system justification and social dominance orientation contributing to the discounting of climate change, with higher system justification and social dominance orientation corresponding with a greater discounting of such events.


Presented at the Spring 2017 Student Research Day at Chapman University.