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A UNIGE researcher has compiled the scientific literature of the last five years linking emotion and climate change, highlighting the main levers that will make it possible to strengthen behaviour in favour of sustainable development.

Emotions are often the victim of their bad reputation, as they are considered “irrational”, but they play a major role in helping us assess the world and guide our behaviour. What is their role in climate perception and action? To answer this question, a researcher from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, has systematically reviewed all the literature on emotions and climate change over the past five years, in order to highlight the main levers for action and to guide politicians in their decision-making. This study shows that communication based on fear or hope must be carefully measured in order to avoid any immobility in citizen action, and that actions in favour of sustainable development can trigger a virtuous circle of behaviour by making their authors feel a sense of pride that pushes them to continue on this path. Results can be read in the journal Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences.

How is climate change perceived from an emotional point of view? What can be done to encourage people to adapt their behaviour in favour of sustainable development, which alone can counter global warming? Around 100 studies have addressed these questions over the last five years. This is why Tobias Brosch, Professor of Psychology of Sustainable Development at the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences (FPSE) and at the Interfaculty Centre for Affective Sciences (CISA) of the UNIGE, has carried out a systematic review of the literature from 2015 to 2020 dealing with the role of emotions in the perception and action towards climate change, whether positive or negative, in order to highlight the main levers of action on which political decisions should be based.

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