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To trust or not to trust? Youth's attitudes, emotions, and trust in climate change science.

In a world characterized by different science dependent global risks, trust in science can be a way to create meaning, cope, and position oneself identity wise and is also important for taking on responsibility regarding these risks. Global climate change is the perhaps most serious threat facing humanity in the long run and is the global problem that youths seem to worry most about. This problem concerns their future. Still youth are not a homogenous group and relate to the climate problem in different ways. In this project we will investigate an aspect of youths' climate engagement that has not been studied in-depth before, namely what role different kinds of trust in climate change science plays in young people’s life. We combine theories about the value of social trust in adolescence, theories about trust in science, and theories about trust, emotions, and coping.

We use a mixed method approach to investigate: (1) How active young people in three climate/environmental organizations in social media argue about climate change science and express trust (discourse analysis). (2) How trust/distrust in climate change science (as an attitude and as a coping strategy) relate to gender, socioeconomic status, ideology, social trust in general, trust regarding other global risks (like the corona threat), self-efficay, C C -hope, wellbeing, and climate engagement (quantitative survey to senior high-school students). (3) The meaning of trust in climate science among youth who are high on this aspect, as identified by the survey study, and possible gender differences in the meaning of trust (semi-structured interviews). This project gives vital knowledge to developmental psychology, multidisciplinary youth research, and sociology of scientific knowledge, but also to the broader society since including youth in climate change mitigation and promoting hope and wellbeing among youth with regards to this problem is pivotal. 

Project information