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Do autistic traits predict pro-environmental attitudes and behaviors, and climate change belief?

Taylor, Emily C., Livingston, Lucy A., Callan, Mitchell J., Hanel, Paul H.P. and Shah, Punit 2021. Do autistic traits predict pro-environmental attitudes and behaviors, and climate change belief? Journal of Environmental Psychology 76 , 101648. 10.1016/j.jenvp.2021.101648
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Abstract

The climate agenda has gathered extraordinary pace due to Greta Thunberg and other autistic environmentalists. Thunberg's autism is widely used to explain and celebrate, but also diminish and denigrate, her activism. However, despite speculation linking autism, pro-environmental action, and climate change belief, there is neither psychological theory nor empirical evidence on this topic. We therefore considered theoretical reasons for and against this potential association, and examined whether autistic traits were positively, if at all, linked to pro-environmental attitudes and behaviors, and climate change belief. In three preregistered studies (N = 2288), including nationally representative samples and well-powered frequentist and Bayesian analyses, we found substantial evidence that autistic traits were associated with engagement in fewer pro-environmental behaviors. Further, autistic traits were neither predictive of pro-environmental attitudes nor climate change belief. We conclude that, irrespective of environmental attitudes or climate change belief, autism and mental health conditions may present barriers for pro-environmental action. Suggestions for understanding the psychological factors underlying climate action and a more inclusive environmental agenda are discussed.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0272-4944
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 14 July 2021
Date of Acceptance: 7 July 2021
Last Modified: 05 Aug 2021 14:03
URI: http://orca.cardiff.ac.uk/id/eprint/142588

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