247811 Adopting climate control behaviors at the household level: A risk perception attitude (RPA) framework approach

Wednesday, November 2, 2011: 11:35 AM

Erin Mead, MHS , Department of Health, Behavior and Society, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Rajiv N. Rimal, PhD , Department of Health, Behavior and Society, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Connie Roser-Renouf, PhD, MS , Center for Climate Change Communication, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
June Flora, PhD, MA , HSTAR-Human Sciences Advanced Research Institute, Stanford University, Menlo Park, CA
Ed Maibach, PhD, MPH , Center for Climate Change Communication, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
Anthony Leiserowitz, PhD, MS , School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Yale University, New Haven, CT
Background: Mitigating climate change requires adopting sustainable behaviors at multiple levels. This paper seeks to determine how parent- and adolescent-level factors affect household behaviors. The risk perception attitude (RPA) framework, which posits that risk perceptions act as motivators and efficacy beliefs as facilitators of behavior change, has not been used at the household level. It was used to predict household-level behaviors and behavioral intentions for reducing climate change. Methods: Data from two waves of a nationally representative survey of parents and one of their adolescent children (n=515 pairs) in the US were collected in January and June, 2010. The RPA framework classified respondents into four groups: indifference (low risk, weak efficacy), proactive (low risk, strong efficacy), avoidance (high risk, weak efficacy), and responsive (high risk, strong efficacy). Correspondence between parental and adolescent RPA groups was assessed using Χ2 tests. A linear regression model (controlling for demographic variables and past behaviors) was run to determine how membership in the RPA groups affected household-level prior engagement in sustainable behaviors and intentions for future engagement. Results: Association between parent and adolescent RPA group membership was significant (Β=125.97, p < .001). Household engagement in sustainable behaviors was positively associated with intention to maintain or increase engagement in the future (Β=0.20, p<0.001). Household-level intention was highest among adults in the responsive and proactive groups (Β=0.26, p<0.001, and Β=0.12, p=0.009, respectively). Among adolescents, household-level intention was highest in the responsive group (Β=0.21, p<0.001), compared with the indifferent group. Conclusion: Even after controlling for prior behaviors, the RPA framework accounted for significant differences among audience segments in their behavioral profile. This provides evidence that the household may represent a meaningful level of audience segmentation and intervention implementation for climate change behaviors, and that efforts directed at familial behaviors may yield stronger (and more sustainable) outcomes.

Learning Areas:
Communication and informatics
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe key risk perceptions and efficacy factors among parents and children that predict household-level intentions to engage in sustainable behaviors in the future. 2. Design an intervention using the Risk Perception Attitude (RPA) framework to target audience segments to increase engagement in sustainable behaviors to mitigate climate change.

Keywords: Communication, Climate Change

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have a Masters of Health Science degree in Public Health, Social & Behavioral Interventions, and currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Public Health, Social & Behavioral Sciences. With my co-authors, I have conducted the data analysis and written the abstract for this submission. I am the lead author on 3 publications and co-author on 5 publications in peer-reviewed journals. I made 2 oral and 2 poster presentations at conferences, as well as co-authored 8 abstracts that were poster or oral presentations.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.