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EBS experts: Prof Myriam Bechtoldt on the topic of psychological processing of climate change

17 September 2021 | By: Violetta Sulzbach, Research Assistant Impact Institute
ZDF Myriam Bechtoldt - Climate Change

Global warming can hardly be reversed and its consequences are becoming increasingly clear in the form of climate-related natural disasters. In order to stop global warming, at least to some extent, people must change their behaviour in the long term. In perceiving and processing these changes, they go through different phases.

In an online article published by ZDF, EBS psychology professor Myriam Bechtoldt and member of the organisation Psychologists for Future (Psy4F) explains the individual phases of this process. First, Bechthold explains that the process is similar to that of mourning: “From denial to intense feelings, the search for solutions to finding a place in the new world”. The first phase, the “not wanting to admit”, is characterised by cognitive dissonance. In the second phase, the “breaking open emotions”, feelings such as anger or fear are present and motivate action. In the third phase, “searching and separating”, social norms would help in the acceptance of the change. In the fourth phase, “new self- and world-reference”, it is important to be guided by positive visions. “Instead of talking about the costs of adaptation, investments in climate protection could also be understood as social insurance against the consequences of global warming, just as private households maintain insurance policies.”

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Max Mustermann
Research Assistant Impact Institute
+49 611 7102