Main content area

How do people's perceptions and climatic disaster experiences influence their daily behaviors regarding adaptation to climate change? — A case study among young generations

Deng, Ying, Wang, Ming, Yousefpour, Rasoul
The Science of the total environment 2017 v.581-582 pp. 840-847
animal adaptation, behavior change, case studies, climate change, correlation, disasters, drought, people, perceptions (cognitive), structural equation modeling, surveys, water conservation, China
Adaptation is a commonly applied strategy used to address individual behavior changes, in response to climate change. However, in-depth, evidence-based investigations of the relationships among individual perceptions, climatic disaster experiences, and daily behaviors regarding adaptation to climate change remain to be conducted. We obtained survey data from 488 respondents in southwestern China, a region prone to frequent and severe droughts, to assess factors that influence adaptive behaviors and to identify their pathways. We applied Construal Level Theory (CLT) and the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) to differentiate between respondents' high-level abstract construals and their low-level concrete construals. We analyzed the influences of these two levels of perception, combined with drought experiences on water-saving behaviors. We developed a structural equation model to estimate the correlation coefficients of the latent and observed variables in the structural process linked to the respondents' adaptive behaviors. The results found that a concrete perception of saving water plays a more significant part than an abstract perception of climate change in prompting specific adaptive behaviors. Improving public perceptions of climate change might increase the desirability of adaptation, whereas improving perceptions of water saving might increase the feasibility of implementing adaptive measures. Experience influenced individual behaviors, but that influence was indirect through its effects on perceptions.