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Description: Behavioral change has been increasingly recognized as a means for combating climate change. However, being concerned about climate problems and knowing the importance of individual actions in mitigating them is not enough for greater adherence to a more sustainable lifestyle. Psychological barriers such as (1) finding the change unnecessary; (2) conflicting goals; (3) interpersonal relationships; (4) lack of knowledge; and (5) tokenism have been proposed as an explanation for the gap between environmental attitudes and actions. Yet, so far, this hypothesis has remained untested. This study aimed to assess if psychological barriers moderate the association between environmental attitudes and climate action. A sample of Portuguese individuals (N = 937) responded to a survey measuring climate change beliefs and environmental concerns as an index of environmental attitudes, a scale of self-reported frequency of environmental action, and finally, the dragons of inaction psychological barrier scale. Our participants revealed generally elevated positive environmental attitudes. These attitudes were positively and moderately related to greater self-reported frequency of environmental action in areas such as reusing materials, reduced consumption of animal products, water and energy saving, and airplane use, but not driving less. Critically, the association between attitudes and behavior was negatively moderated by psychological barriers for the reuse, food, and saving domains, but not for driving or flying. In conclusion, our results corroborate the assumption that psychological barriers can partly explain the attitude-behavior gap in the climate action domain.

License: CC-By Attribution 4.0 International


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