Efficacy, Action, and Support for Reducing Climate Change Risks

Published in Risk Analysis: An International Journal, 2018

Recommended citation: Bostrom, A., Hayes, A.L., & Crosman, K.M. (in press). "Efficacy, Action, and Support for Reducing Climate Change Risks.." Risk Analysis. https://doi.org/10.1111/risa.13210


A growing body of research demonstrates that believing action to reduce the risks of climate change is both possible (self-efficacy) and effective (response efficacy) is essential to motivate and sustain risk mitigation efforts. Despite this potentially critical role of efficacy beliefs, measures and their use vary wildly in climate change risk perception and communication research, making it hard to compare and learn from efficacy studies. To address this problem and advance our understanding of efficacy beliefs, this article makes three contributions. First, we present a theoretically motivated approach to measuring climate change mitigation efficacy, in light of diverse proposed, perceived, and previously researched strategies. Second, we test this in two national survey samples (Amazon’s Mechanical Turk N = 405, GfK Knowledge Panel N = 1,820), demonstrating largely coherent beliefs by level of action and discrimination between types of efficacy. Four additive efficacy scales emerge: personal self-efficacy, personal response efficacy, government and collective self-efficacy, and government and collective response efficacy. Third, we employ the resulting efficacy scales in mediation models to test how well efficacy beliefs predict climate change policy support, controlling for specific knowledge, risk perceptions, and ideology, and allowing for mediation by concern. Concern fully mediates the relatively strong effects of perceived risk on policy support, but only partly mediates efficacy beliefs. Stronger government and collective response efficacy beliefs and personal self-efficacy beliefs are both directly and indirectly associated with greater support for reducing the risks of climate change, even after controlling for ideology and causal beliefs about climate change.