Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 5-2019

Faculty Advisor(s)

Christine Gordon


Fear of climate change in the United States is seen as the prerequisite to effective mitigation efforts, which are understood to quite literally be a matter of life and death. Past macro-theories have cited faulty economic reasoning, inadequate education, and cultural influence as causes for a lack of fear of climate change without effectively analyzing fear on the individual level or exploring its effects on mitigation efforts. Using the Chapman Fear Survey, this paper will explore three variables—political party, age, and media exposure—as determinants of individual fear of climate change and then analyze the causes of those connections. Overarchingly, it will challenge the base assumption that fear motivates mitigation and explore its previously obscured effects. Although macro-level action is necessary to combat climate change, as pre-existing research correctly asserts, action on the part of the individual cannot be overlooked. Furthermore, the vital role of fear in influencing action cannot be taken for granted. Conclusions will include suggestions of incorporating wide-scale changes as well as a different paradigm through which to approach climate change activism, thereby combining the macro-theory and the micro-theory to form a tangible solution. Understanding how to communicate the issue of climate change logically and accurately to different age groups and party members in an accessible and inclusive manner is vital in forming a unified front that advances mitigation efforts.


Presented at the Spring 2019 Student Scholar Symposium at Chapman University.