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Anxiety and climate change: A validation of the Climate Anxiety Scale in a German-speaking quota sample and an investigation of psychological correlates

: Wullenkord, Marlis C.; Tröger, Josephine; Hamann, Karen R.S.; Loy, Laura S.; Reese, Gerhard

Volltext urn:nbn:de:0011-n-6427121 (942 KByte PDF)
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Erstellt am: 5.11.2021

Climatic change 168 (2021), Art. 20, 23 S.
ISSN: 0165-0009
ISSN: 1573-1480
Zeitschriftenaufsatz, Elektronische Publikation
Fraunhofer ISI ()
climate anxiety; climate denial; pro-environmental intentions; ideology; psychological needs; eco-anxiety

The climate crisis is an unprecedented existential threat that causes disturbing emotions, such as anxiety. Recently, Clayton and Karazsia measured climate anxiety as “a more clinically significant ‘anxious’ response to climate change” (2020, p. 9). To gain a more nuanced understanding of the phenomenon from an empirical psychological perspective, we translated the core of the Climate Anxiety Scale into German and assessed potential correlates in a large German-speaking quota sample (N = 1011, stratified by age and gender). Overall, people reported low levels of climate anxiety. Climate anxiety correlated positively with general anxiety and depressiveness, avoidance of climate change in everyday life, frustration of basic psychological needs, pro-environmental behavioral intentions, and policy support. It correlated negatively with different forms of climate denial and was unrelated to ideological beliefs. We were not able to replicate the two dimensions found in the original scale. Moreover, we argue that items appear to measure a general climate-related emotional impairment, rather than distinctly and comprehensively capturing climate anxiety. Thus, we encourage researchers to rework the scale and include an emotional factor in future research efforts.