What people know and do about climate change: the impact of climate change knowledge on energy use

Nadja Zeiske, Jacobus van der Poel, Nina Hansen, Linda Steg, Marieke Timmerman

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractAcademic


Increasing people’s knowledge about climate change is an often used strategy aimed to strengthen climate change beliefs and encourage energy saving behaviour. But which type of knowledge would be most beneficial in this respect? We propose that different types of knowledge are likely to affect beliefs and behaviour differently. More specifically, we suggest that particularly knowledge about the consequences of climate change is likely to strengthen beliefs about climate change. Yet, this knowledge is not likely to reduce energy consumption, as it does not reveal what one could do to help realize it. Hence, we expect that only knowledge about one’s personal impact on climate change will reduce energy consumption. Study 1 develops and tests a climate change knowledge scale and shows that only knowledge about consequences of climate change is related to beliefs (e.g., awareness of climate change problems) among students. Study 2 shows that only knowledge of one’s own impact on the environment is related to lower energy consumption among a representative population sample. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventBCEP Groningen 2015 - Groningen, Netherlands
Duration: 24-Aug-201526-Aug-2015


ConferenceBCEP Groningen 2015


  • climate change knowledge
  • energy use
  • environmental attitudes

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