Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2023

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

Political Science

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Studies show that the primary barriers to climate action support are cognitive ones, and yet it is not clear how people’s climate perceptions influence their support. Key perceptions’ effects remain either disputed or unidentified in the literature, so there is no established theory explaining the drivers of climate action support. I argue that people’s climate perceptions—including of others’ climate actions, climate change impacts, and climate change severity and timing—have effects that align with conventional assumptions of rational behavior. By running survey experiments and statistical analyses on data from both the US and Europe, I show that perceptions’ effects on support generally follow the rationality assumption, meaning people support climate action only if they think it is in their best interest. These findings are critical for gaining a better understanding of the barriers to climate action support, and thus for identifying strategies that can be used to increase support.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Keith Schakenberg Michael Bechtel

Committee Members

Keith Schnakenberg, Michael Bechtel, Matthew Gabel, Betsy Sinclair,

Available for download on Tuesday, April 22, 2025