Mitigation system threat partially mediates the effects of right‐wing ideologies on climate change beliefs


Research consistently shows that right‐wing ideological adherents are more likely to deny climate change. However, less is known about how right‐wing ideological subtypes are uniquely related to climate change denial, as well as what explains these relationships. This study examines whether threat to the socioeconomic system in the form of climate change mitigation policies, referred to as Climate Change Mitigation Threat (CCMT), mediates the relationships between Right‐Wing Authoritarianism (RWA) and Social Dominance Orientation (SDO) subtypes and four forms of climate change denial (existence denial, human cause denial, impact denial and climate science denial). U.S. participants (N = 334; Mage = 34.70, SD = 5.98) were recruited via Amazon MTurk. When shared variance in the predictors was accounted for, we found that: (a) Conventionalism (RWA‐C) positively predicted all forms of climate change denial; (b) Dominance (SDO‐D) positively predicted existence denial; (c) Anti‐Egalitarianism (SDO‐E) positively predicted both human cause and impact denial; and (d) Aggression (RWA‐A) negatively predicted existence denial. All significant direct relationships were partially mediated by CCMT, except for the direct paths between SDO‐D and existence denial, and RWA‐A and existence denial. These findings suggest that right‐wing adherents who conform to societal norms and prefer unequal social systems may deny climate change partly due to a perception that mitigation strategies proposed to combat climate change threaten the existing socioeconomic system.

Journal of Applied Social Psychology