Attachment theory is an ethological approach to the development of durable, affective ties between humans. We propose that secure attachment is crucial for understanding climate change mitigation, because the latter is inherently a communal phenomenon resulting from joint action and requiring collective behavioral change. Here, we show that priming attachment security increases acceptance (Study 1: n = 173) and perceived responsibility toward anthropogenic climate change (Study 2: n = 209) via increased empathy for others. Next, we demonstrate that priming attachment security, compared to a standard National Geographic video about climate change, increases monetary donations to a proenvironmental group in politically moderate and conservative individuals (Study 3: n = 196). Finally, through a preregistered field study conducted in the United Arab Emirates (Study 4: n = 143,558 food transactions), we show that, compared to a message related to carbon emissions, an attachment security-based message is associated with a reduction in food waste. Taken together, our work suggests that an avenue to promote climate change mitigation could be grounded in core ethological mechanisms associated with secure attachment.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Sep 14 2021|
- Climate change
- Food waste
ASJC Scopus subject areas