Do people's assumptions about the social world matter? The effects of social axioms on environmental attitude and efficacy beliefs

Hoi Wing Chan, Kim Pong Tam

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Why do people respond to environmental issues differently? In this research, we approach this question by referring to the role of social axioms, a set of generalized beliefs that embody people's assumptions and expectations about how the social world functions. There are five social axioms specifically: social cynicism, reward for application, social complexity, fate control, and religiosity. We contend that when facing environmental issues, people will resort to their social axioms as these axioms help them understand those issues and evaluate their capability to tackle them through personal and/or collective efforts. As expected, in three studies, we found that the five axioms were associated with environmental attitude and efficacy beliefs: reward for application and social complexity were associated with a more pro-environmental orientation, whereas social cynicism, fate control, and religiosity were related to a less pro-environmental orientation. In Study 3, we additionally demonstrated the unique contribution of social axioms in explaining environmentalism with values and big five personality traits controlled for. These findings support the use of the concept of social axioms as a novel framework for understanding individual differences in environmentalism. This framework offers insights into how people process environment-related information and events and determine their mitigation and adaptation strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101598
JournalJournal of Environmental Psychology
Volume75
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Climate change belief
  • Environmental attitude
  • Environmental efficacy
  • Pro-environmental behavior
  • Social axioms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

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