The psychology behind why people do not want to believe that climate change is happening.

The psychology behind why people do not want to believe that climate change is happening.

Climate changes all the time. Throughout the years people were able to record those changes and provide evidence for them. There are multiple charts, graphs, documentaries, that show climate is changing. Despite these facts people nowadays tend the obvious because they assume that it is something that can be neglected and ignored. There are multiple explanations for it.
One of those explanations can be associated with the bystander effect which is a social psychological phenomenon. This phenomenon reverse to cases in which people do not help people in need because there are other people present and simply assume that there is always someone who should help. Simple experiment conducted by Bibb Latane and Judith Rodin investigate the reason behind this behavior. The experiment was staged around a woman in a need for help. Around 70 % of the people who thought that the women needed help provided but this was because there was nobody else around. Only around 40% of people passing by helped when there were other people present. The explanation of these results is quite simple. People think that they should not do anything because there is always someone who can get the job done. It is the same mentality embraces the climate change. People think that there are scientists who would take care of it and nobody else has any responsibilities.
Another explanation of why people ignore the climate change is simply because of our daily activities. There is so much happening around us: family, work, money, economy, crime, that we do not want to hear about anything else which will additionally overwhelm us. This is completely understandable because we chose not to know or care about the existing problem. In addition to this people do not take climate change seriously because it is not happening right now, it is always in the future. In that case people continue to think that if it is in the future then it is too early to take it seriously because right now there are more important things to worry about. According to psychologist Daniel Gilbert people tend to respond threats that are personal, present abrupt changes in our environment, immoral, and affecting us now. Because climate change is not person, immoral, or happening now people will continue to ignore it and believe that it is fomenting in the distant future.



Tsvetelina Georgiev


4 thoughts on “The psychology behind why people do not want to believe that climate change is happening.

  1. I love how you brought up the bystander effect, because I think that it is so true, especially in America where we may not feel as directly impacted by climate change. I think a lot of people in the U.S. tend to believe that other people can take care of the problem, people from areas that have been greatly devastated. Unless there are more catastrophes that happen to our country, I think that it is unlikely that the number of individuals who are very concerned about climate change will increase.

    Colleen Crawford


  2. Your perspective here is really interesting. I have heard of the bystander effect before in psychology class but I had never thought to apply it toward environmental changes. I remember hearing that groups were working to educate people about the bystander effect for issues such as sexual assault; I think extending this to climate change would be very effective.
    Alexis Wilsey


  3. I am definitely guilty of the optimism bias that he talked about in the video, that you think things will work out for you, or that bad things will not happen to you.
    I liked your explanation about not helping because we think someone else will help. This can definitely be applied to climate change ideas.
    Emily Weglage


  4. I find it interesting how they compare the bystander effect to global warming. And to be honest it does make sense. Everyone think someone else will fix it so they put no thought into it. I’ve noticed too that there are many times where I think to myself, “I’ll do it if no one else does”, thus having that mindset that someone else will do it.

    Danny Wells


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