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Young people's communication with parents, friends, and teachers about global environmental problems: Emotions, coping, and self-efficacy

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Maria Ojala

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Young people are important to include in the strivings for a sustainable society. Studies have shown that feelings of hopelessness and helplessness about global problems such as climate change are common. These negative feelings seem to increase from childhood to late adolescence/young adulthood. How young people handle negative emotions and ambivalence related to environmental problems and pro-environmental behavior is therefore important to investigate. Few studies have been performed and those that exist focus on emotion regulation at an individual level. The aim of the project is to extend this research by studying coping in a social context. The starting point is new theories about the importance of positive emotions and social interaction for coping. The main question is how late adolescents communicate with parents, peers, and teachers about emotions related to environmental problems and how this interaction influences individual coping strategies, self-efficacy and pro-environmental behavior. Both cross-sectional and longitudinal quantitative data have been used. In addition, an interview study with senior high-school teachers about their meta-emotion philosophies has been performed.