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Examining Canadians' experiences and perceptions of climate change

The complex issues of climate change evoke emotions and coping styles that can vary greatly from person to person.

Some individuals still prefer to doubt the seriousness of the current situation; others claim that scientific advances will solve the environmental problems, if at all, and that they therefore do not need to think about them. Others choose to believe that the mass media exaggerate the observable consequences of climate change. Still others are convinced that climate change will not really impact them.

On the other hand, many people - among those who acknowledge the problem outright - express concern, or even eco-anxiety, and/or anger at the inaction of governments and/or industries. An ongoing study is looking at the multiple ways in which climate change is experienced and perceived.

  •  Examining Canadians' experiences and perceptions of climate change  Examining Canadians' experiences and perceptions of climate change

Exploring and surveying Canadians´diverse worldviews of nature and climate change

How we interact with our external environment - including nature as part of it - is not only dependent on our senses but is a subjective phenomenon.

Our perceptions contain an imaginary part, echoing our vision of the world. There are many elements of our imagination that can structure, shape, and direct the way we perceive our relationship to the world around us, including nature. A whole range of images and symbols shape our vision of the world to give meaning to our existence.

The current study therefore also aims to explore how individual Canadians' worldviews affect their relationship to nature - and to the reality of climate change.

  • Exploring and surveying Canadians´diverse worldviews of nature and climate change Exploring and surveying Canadians´diverse worldviews of nature and climate change

Considering how our worldview can shape our perception of climate change

When we share our perceptions of climate change, we rely on the data we have collected (often immediately available and accessible to our minds) that informs our impressions and ideas that we communicate to others.

However, our perception is also conditioned by our values, our philosophy of life, and our beliefs, in other words, our worldview. The current study also aims to examine how our worldview - and particularly the place of nature in it - can influence or modulate our perceptions of climate change.

This study will allow us to better understand how our worldview can increase (or decrease) our concerns about climate change, or mobilize us (or not) to act against its impacts.

  • Considering how our worldview can shape our perception of climate change Considering how our worldview can shape our perception of climate change

Better understanding Canadians' behaviours to promote their wellbeing and better intervene with individuals and groups

People's behaviours and adaptive responses to climate change are multiple. It is important to better identify them since they serve to promote and/or maintain the well-being of individuals and communities.

The study will therefore focus on better understanding how various behaviours and responses can promote (or not) people's well-being, and this, to varying degrees. The results may then stimulate the development of more appropriate interventions (prevention, care, and coping) aimed at strengthening the individual resilience of eco-anxious people.

These results may also provide policy makers and communication experts with the tools to better inform, raise awareness, or reassure the public about the consequences of climate change on mental health and well-being.

  • Better understanding Canadians' behaviours to promote their wellbeing and better intervene with individuals and groups Better understanding Canadians' behaviours to promote their wellbeing and better intervene with individuals and groups

Methodology

ABOUT OUR METHODOLOGY

Methodology

Our research uses a mixed-methods design composed of a series of empirical studies conducted using semi-structured interviews, focus groups, self-reported questionnaires and a projective test of the imaginary.

EXPECTED RESULTS

The theoretical and practical benefits of our research will provide: (a) a deeper understanding of climate change as perceived by adult Canadians; (b) the development of possible empirical interdisciplinary research; (c) the emergence of new knowledge that will guide the development of approaches in promoting prevention, care and adaptation to climate change.

Our results may be of interest to researchers in scientific circles as well as to political decision-makers and various stakeholders (educators, health and social service professionals). Our results will lead to a better understanding of the psychological impacts of climate change and help to identify optimal interventions for building personal resilience regarding eco-anxiety.

Finally, through our research activities and training, we aim to bring together researchers, stakeholders, experts in Canada and elsewhere, as well as decision-makers from the industry, community and government. This will lead to a collaborative exploration of climate change solutions for a sustainable and equitable future for all.


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