Climate change denial
The following is a sample Paper 3 that looks at focus groups. Below you will first find the stimulus piece, followed by the static questions. A copy of the mock paper is included to give students as an in-class assessment.
Potential answers are included in the hidden boxes below.
Often psychologists find that there is a significant difference between what people think that they should do and how they actually behave. For examples, surveys show that people are aware that foods high in fat and sugar are bad for them, but they do not change their diet. Another area where there is a striking difference between understanding and behaviour is with regard to the environment. People consistently demonstrate a concern about the consequences of climate change, but they do very little to change their own behaviours or support changes within their community.
Stoll-Kleeman et al. (2000) carried out a series of focus groups in order to get a better understanding of this problem. The typical group size was 6 - 8 people. The participants were selected by a stratified sample from the adult Swiss German-speaking population. Using the official files of telephone numbers, people were called making sure that each group would be diverse with regard to gender, age, education, and environmental attitudes.
Each group met for five interviews of about two and a half hours each. Each focus group started by looking at models of the possible consequences of climate change. A specialist presented the model and then allowed questions for clarification. Then the group discussed what they felt they could do in order to lower the effects of climate change. The group discussions were videotaped and the tapes transcribed. A content analysis was carried out on the transcripts.
Members of the group were alarmed about the consequences of climate change. But when discussing whether to change their lifestyles of material comfort and high-energy dependence, they did not feel that this was a priority. They discussed the costs of shifting away from comfortable lifestyles, set blame on the inaction of others, including governments, and expressed doubts regarding how much effect personal actions would actually have on climate change.
These findings suggest that more attention needs to be given to why individuals erect barriers to their personal commitment to slowing climate change, even when they express anxiety over the future.
Stoll-Kleemann, S, O’Riordan T. & C Jaeger. (2000) The psychology of denial concerning climate mitigation measures: evidence from Swiss focus groups. PIK Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research, Social Systems, PF 601203.
1a. Identify the method used and outline two characteristics of the method.
1b. Describe the sampling method used in the study.
1c. Suggest an alternative or additional research method giving one reason for your choice.
2. Describe the ethical considerations in reporting the results and explain ethical considerations that could be taken into account when applying the findings of the study.
3. Discuss how the researcher might avoid bias in this study.