Powerful Feelings: Extending the Extended Parallel Processing Model to collective action on climate change




Stenhouse, Neil

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The extended parallel processing model (EPPM) is a theory of how individuals’ perceptions of a threat, combined with their perceptions of their own ability to effectively remove the threat, influence their behavioral response (Witte, 1992). Two scholars (Hart & Feldman, 2014) have suggested extending the EPPM to explain responses to the collective threat of climate change. This extension consists of the addition of two efficacy perceptions into the model: perceived likelihood of political action influencing politicians’ actions, and perceived effectiveness of policy in reducing the threat of climate change. In this dissertation, I use survey and experimental data to extend Hart & Feldman’s work by examining two additional forms of efficacy perceptions -- participative efficacy and expectations of others’ participation. I also control for a third construct, collective identification with climate advocates. I hypothesized that each of the efficacy beliefs, and perceived threat, would be independently and positively associated with collective action. My results showed that four of the five forms of efficacy beliefs, perceived threat, and collective identification with climate advocates, were each positively associated with at least one measure of political action. Expectation that others would participate in political action was not associated with taking action.. The constructs with the strongest associations with political action were perceived efficacy of government climate policy, and collective identification. The failure of most experimental messages to have significant effects on efficacy and threat perceptions, combined with problems in the way that several variables were measured, mean that strong conclusions about the causal effects of each variable cannot be made. These results do, however, suggest that models of collective action will be strengthened by including a more diverse range of efficacy beliefs. Other implications for theory and practice are discussed.



Communication, Political science, Climate change, Climate change, Collective action, Efficacy, Extended Parallel Process Model