Country Contexts and Individuals’ Climate Change Mitigating Behaviors: A Comparison of U.S. Versus German Individuals’ Efforts to Reduce Energy Use

J. K. Swim and J. C. Becker

The Journal of Social Issues (1 September 2012)

DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-4560.2012.01764.x

Countries can set the stage for residents’ behaviors via government and business policies and the values held within countries. This study examines German versus U.S. residents’ (predominantly students’) efforts to engage in direct and indirect behaviors that lessen their personal contribution to greenhouse gases. Consistent with country level differences in mitigation efforts, German students were more likely to engage in direct and indirect energy reduction behaviors. We propose a mediation model explaining the relation between country and likelihood of engaging in these behaviors. As expected, Germans showed more energy reduction behaviors because they were more likely to endorse biospheric environmental concerns, less likely to endorse egoistic environmental concerns, less likely to think that personal costs of energy reduction behaviors were important, and more likely to think ethical considerations were important. However, we found that cost–benefit considerations played less of a role in indirect than direct energy reduction behaviors.

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