The gender gap in environmental attitudes: A system justification perspective

Rachel E. Goldsmith, Irina Feygina, John T. Jost

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


System justification refers to a psychological tendency to maintain certainty, security, and solidarity through motivated perceptions of the status quo and the extant socioeconomic system as beneficial, fair, stable, and legitimate, especially in response to dependency and threat. Systemjustification impedes efforts to address societal challenges, and in particular gives rise to denial, resistance, and inaction in the face of climate change and environmental problems. Women chronically engage in less system justification than men, and this difference partially explainswomen’s greater willingness to acknowledge ecological problems and risks and to engage in actions that are beneficial for the environment. We demonstrate that reframing environmentalmessages as consistent with upholding the established way of life and the well-being of our society gives rise to increased support for environmental efforts on the part of those who are especially motivated to justify the system and can therefore help to narrow the ideological gap in environmental attitudes and behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationResearch, Action and Policy
Subtitle of host publicationAddressing the Gendered Impacts of Climate Change
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9789400755185
ISBN (Print)9789400755178
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013


  • Climate change
  • Environmental attitudes
  • Environmental behaviours
  • Gender
  • System justification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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