Self-focused value profiles relate to climate change skepticism in young adolescents

S. Grapsas*, A.I. Becht, S.C.E. Thomaes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Climate change skepticism hampers individual and societal transitions to a more sustainable way of life. Unfortunately, little is known about its emergence and early psychological underpinnings. To address this issue, the present study examined the links between basic values and climate change skepticism in young adolescents from three culturally, socially, and politically diverse countries. In an online survey, adolescents (N = 5,244, ages 12–14) from the Netherlands, China, and Colombia reported their basic values and levels of climate change skepticism. In each country, adolescents who reported elevated levels of climate change skepticism prioritized self-enhancement values (and, to a lesser degree, openness-to-change values), but not self-transcendence values. Latent Profile Analyses identified 5 value priority profiles, and similarly showed that adolescents with self-focused value priority profiles reported higher levels of climate change skepticism than adolescents with other-focused value priority profiles. Together, our findings show that, across countries, early emerging climate change skepticism is linked to value profiles that promote self-interest over collective welfare. These findings suggest opportunity for intervention in early adolescence, when adolescents’ budding values and views on polarized topics such as climate change may be relatively malleable.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101978
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Environmental Psychology
Publication statusPublished - May 2023


  • Basic values
  • Climate change skepticism
  • Cross-cultural research
  • Early adolescence
  • Latent profile analysis


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