Evaluating climate change behaviors and concern in the family context

Danielle F. Lawson, Kathryn T. Stevenson, M. Nils Peterson, Sarah J. Carrier, Erin Seekamp, Renee Strnad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Although research suggests that family dynamics likely play a role in shaping children’s behaviors, few studies focus on environmental behaviors, and none to our knowledge investigate how parents shape climate change mitigation behaviors among their children. We begin to fill this gap through a quantitative case study using matched household-level survey data from 182 coastal North Carolina families (n = 241 parents aged 29–77; n = 182 students aged 11–14) associated with 15 middle school science teachers. Family climate change discussions, parent behaviors, and children’s climate change concern levels predicted the degree to which children will participate in individual-level climate mitigation behaviors. These results provide evidence that promoting climate-related conversations within households may promote climate action even when parents are apathetic about climate change. Similarly, parental behaviors, but not their concern levels, were important predictors of adolescent behaviors. This study highlights novel ways that family dynamics may promote climate change mitigating behaviors and a new pathway to promoting climate mitigation at familial, and ultimately, societal levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)678-690
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Education Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education


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