The Greta Effect: It’s Real

January 26, 2021

Among the authors of a new study is Tony Leiserowitz, my colleague at Yale Climate Connections.

Journal of Applied Social Psychology:

Despite Greta Thunberg’s popularity, research has yet to investigate her impact on the public’s willingness to take collective action on climate change. Using cross-sectional data from a nationally representative survey of U.S. adults (N = 1,303), we investigate the “Greta Thunberg Effect,” or whether exposure to Greta Thunberg predicts collective efficacy and intentions to engage in collective action.

We find that those who are more familiar with Greta Thunberg have higher intentions of taking collective actions to reduce global warming and that stronger collective efficacy beliefs mediate this relationship. This association between familiarity with Greta Thunberg, collective efficacy beliefs, and collective action intentions is present even after accounting for respondents’ overall support for climate activism. Moderated mediation models testing age and political ideology as moderators of the “Greta Thunberg Effect” indicate that although the indirect effect of familiarity with Greta Thunberg via collective efficacy is present across all age-groups, and across the political spectrum, it may be stronger among those who identify as more liberal (than conservative).

Our findings suggest that young public figures like Greta Thunberg may motivate collective action across the U.S. public, but their effect may be stronger among those with a shared political ideology. Implications for future research and for broadening climate activists’ ap- peals across the political spectrum are discussed


6 Responses to “The Greta Effect: It’s Real”

  1. Sustain blog Says:

    It’s real, the Greta effect! It will go further. Thank you…

  2. I’ll definitely agree that there is a Greta effect. People see this girl who is reported to have Asperger’s and assume she has some unique logical perspective on the subject of climate change. She is articulate and has a striking visual presence, so a lot of people probably conclude that she is some sort of scientific genius. One of the symptoms of Asperger’s is repeated patterns of behavior. This would certainly include patterns of thought. Actual science is about being open to new facts and changing or discarding old theories accordingly. One characteristic she seems to have in spades is a strong sense of certitude. Does anyone really think she is going to easily change her mind about any point when confronted with a logical argument? She has actually espoused some irrationality. Michael Shellenberger has pointed out that she has encouraged people to panic. Panic means unthinking behavior.

    She is a savant, but not a science savant. Her parents are both thespians. She is a prodigy drama queen! Someone who is good at drama is going to have an emotional effect on people, … hence, the Greta effect.

    • redskylite Says:

      I don’t think anyone thinks Greta as a “scientist” or “science savant”. She repeatly asks people to listen to the experts and they are the mainstream climate scientists, such as Mann, – she doesn’t claim to be one. She is a prominant figurehead and voice of a generation, a generation who care, and as “Indy222” said in his draft presentation recently, part of a generation who see it as a duty to fight “Climate Change” will try their very best to minimize or mitigate this mess the older generations have left them. If she just kept silent or spoke the usual blah, blah blah – no-one at all would care about her opinions. The fact she has Asperger’s is incidental and overhyped, and what is there to change her mind about anyhow.

      • greenman3610 Says:

        it’s the same dodge as when you hear Fox News knuckle heads talk about “Al Gore’s climate Change”.
        The idea is to immediately evoke an emotional response toward the hated, or feared personality, which they hope will rub off on the science itself.
        The fear that climate deniers have for Greta Thunberg is largely because they tend to be old, white, stupid males, and she is young, female, and very bright.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      I’ve never seen Greta referred to as a scientific genius.
      Where do you get this?

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