Policy attributes, perceived impacts, and climate change policy preferences

Janet K. Swim, Nathaniel Geiger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


There are broad differences in popularity amongst different policies designed to address climate change. Across two studies, we explore systematic preferences across three policy attributes: 1) who is targeted: business versus individuals, 2) what is targeted: energy supply versus energy demand, and 3) how change is motivated: incentives versus disincentives. Additionally, in Study 2, we examine whether perceptions of policy impacts along the three pillars of sustainability (environment, economic, and social) can explain the effect of these policy attributes on the lay public's policy preferences. First, participants preferred policies that a) attempt to change the energy supply by changing the source of energy (e.g., more renewable energy) over policies that attempt to reduce the demand by reducing energy use (e.g., encourage energy efficiency). Second, participants preferred policies using incentives over policies using disincentives, especially when considering policies that targeted individuals (vs. businesses). The latter suggests that participants were more tolerant of the use of disincentives for businesses than individuals. Participants' expectations about policy consequences explained these patterns of preferences: Preferred types of policies were expected to have the most environmental benefits (suggesting that the policies would be effective) and the most net-positive economic and social impacts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101673
JournalJournal of Environmental Psychology
StatePublished - Oct 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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