Influence of climate change communication on cognitive, emotional and behavioural engagement with adaptation among forest owners in Sweden
This thesis examines if, and how, climate change communication can promote individual engagement with adaptation. It tests if communication can affect intrapsychic conditions, behavioural intentions and individual action related to adaptation. To assess the effect of communication on individual engagement with adaptation, the thesis examines two different communication approaches: transmission-orientated and deliberation-orientated. To test the first approach, the thesis compares survey responses from 2014 of two different groups of forest owners from Sweden: Forest owners who participated in two climate change communication projects by the Swedish Forest Agency; and a group of randomly selected forest owners. To examine the second approach, the thesis evaluates results from a fourand-a-half-year long panel survey of 45 forest owners that participated in a communication project based on the concept of science-based stakeholder dialogues. The panel survey took place between 2013 and 2018. The thesis also uses qualitative data to complement the statistical analysis of the panel survey. Key findings include: First, intrapsychic conditions – personal appraisal of climate change risk, concern, trust in climate science, belief in personal knowledge, experience of extreme events and attribution of these experiences to climate change – can help explain individual engagement with adaptation. Second, both approaches to climate change communication have only a small effect on intrapsychic conditions, intentions and personal behaviour. Third, the potential of communication to promote engagement with climate change hinges on its perceived credibility, legitimacy and practical value. Fourth, the thesis highlights the limits of the psychological approach to research about individual adaptation and the need to understand climate change communication in its socioeconomic context. The thesis offers boundary organisations insights into how to create credible, science-based and actionable knowledge. More long-term, mixed-method research is needed to better understand the influence of social norms and personal values on people’s engagement with adaptation, and how communication can be combined with structural incentives to foster individual and collective action.