New Study: Exploring the relationships between worry about climate change, belief about personal responsibility, and mental wellbeing among adolescent and young adults

HEAL Lab researchers Gina Martin and Tasha Roswell, along with colleague, Alina Cosma (Trinity College Dublin), recently published an article in Wellbeing, Space and Society titled, “Exploring the relationships between worry about climate change, belief about personal responsibility, and mental wellbeing among adolescent and young adults”.

This study investigated feelings of a personal responsibility to reduce or climate change, climate change worry, and the associations with mental well-being among adolescents and young adults.

Research was conducted using secondary data from the 2016/2017 European Social Survey Round 8 (multi-country survey). Data from this round included responses from 11,825 young people aged 15-35 from 23 countries.

Mental well-being (measured through happiness ad life satisfaction), climate change worry, and belief about personal responsibility regarding climate change were self-reported and treated as continuous variables. Covariates included urbanicity, household income, and worry about power supply due to terrorist attacks. Potential moderators were age, gender, and frequency of climate change thoughts.

 Among respondents that reported they believe the climate is changing, climate worry was negatively associated with both measures of wellbeing; happiness and life satisfaction and were not moderated by age or gender. Having feelings of personal responsibility to reduce climate change was positively associated with happiness and life satisfaction. These findings demonstrate that young people may benefit from beliefs that they have a personal responsibility to reduce climate change by feeling a sense of meaning, purpose, and agency in one’s life.

 Findings on climate change worry and the negative associations with mental wellbeing are in line with other studies on this topic. However, more research is needed on the directions of influence regarding climate change worry and young people’s overall mental well-being.

 This is one of few multi-national studies that explored the associations between climate change worry and mental wellbeing in adolescents and young adults using a random sample.

 Citation: Gina Martin, Tasha Roswell, and Alina Cosma. Exploring the relationships between worry about climate change, belief about personal responsibility, and mental wellbeing among adolescents and young adults. Wellbeing, Space and Society, 6, 100198 (2024); https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wss.2024.100198

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