Journal of Applied Social Psychology

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Politics, concern for future generations, and the environment: Generativity mediates political conservatism and environmental attitudes

Abstract Climate change and pollution impact those alive today as well as future generations, suggesting that attitudes toward future generations may be linked with environmental attitudes. Despite the widespread impact of the environmental on human lives, there is considerable partisan divide in the United States with regards to environmental issues. We investigated relationships between political conservatism, generativity, and environmental attitudes in two studies (N = 429 and N = 618). Political conservatism was associated with lower pro‐environmental attitudes; however, political conservatism was also associated with higher generativity and had a positive indirect effect on pro‐environmental attitudes through higher generativity. More politically conservative individuals may have greater concern for future life and thereby have more pro‐environmental attitudes even while having lower pro‐environmental attitudes overall. These results likely reflect partisan polarization with regard to environmental issues. Pro‐environmental messages may be more persuasive for conservatives if they are linked to concerns about future generations.

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