How do young people relate to climate change, and what can developmental psychologists learn from it?

People demonstrating

What insights can developmental psychology get from climate-change research with young people? In a narrative review published in the European Journal of Developmental Psychology, Maria Ojala provides an overview of research that has focused on young people and climate change, and identifies vital and emerging areas of research that might interest developmental psychologists.

The review focuses on four central topics that are relevant for the field of developmental psychology. First, the relationship between climate-change worry and mental well-being is discussed, both for young people in countries that are directly impacted by climate change and young people who encounter climate change indirectly across various forms of media. Second, Ojala writes about different coping strategies concerning climate change and how these strategies might have a protective effect on youths’ well-being. The third topic focuses on young people’s engagement in climate-friendly behavior in their private lives and factors that promote such engagement. Lastly, the fourth topic concerns pro-environmental engagement beyond the private sphere, such as engaging in demonstrations and school strikes for the environment.

Ojala concludes the article with a discussion on important next steps for future researchers to advance the field, both in terms of which types of studies need to be conducted, which groups to investigate, as well as promising methodologies that have not been utilized enough.

Ojala, M. (2022). How do children, adolescents, and young adults relate to climate change? Implications for developmental psychology, European Journal of Developmental Psychology. Read more about the article here