Climate emotions and affective dilemmas. A psychological and philosophical study of their normative principles and the public's perceptions

An interdisciplinary projects that tries to understand the normativization of climate emotions. How "should" we feel about climate change?

Climate change has become one of the most emotionally loaded issues of all times. The changing climate and its consequences evoke various reactions, as does the awareness of our personal and collective responsibility for the inaction and the crisis. Yet, climate change does not evoke concern in everyone. Some feel indifferent or even doubt the existence of human-induced climate change.

Climate emotions have recently become a matter of normative scrutiny, including questions about
how oneself or others ought to feel in the face of climate change. We refer to this phenomenon as the normativization of climate emotions. Some of the liveliest debates have focused on anxiety and hope, and in these debates, people may find themselves confronted with climate affective dilemmas and disagreements: How should they feel, and how should they feel if failing to feel the “right way”? Should hope, fear, or some other climate emotion be promoted (or suppressed) in society and what could be the reasons for this?

The first aim of this project is to conduct novel interdisciplinary theoretical research to examine the normative standards that seem to apply to climate emotions from the psychological and philosophical normativity literature. The second aim is to conduct empirical analyses to study how the public engages in and perceives the normativity of climate emotions, climate affective dilemmas and other affective disagreements. These analyses will also examine how climate affective dilemmas may influence wellbeing, social relationships (e.g. trust, blame), and engagement in climate action.

Based on the findings, concrete guidelines will be developed for how to reason through and solve affective dilemmas, relying on philosophical methodology of critical analysis and ethical principles, combined with applied settings methods from psychology. These guidelines are expected to benefit the public and professions involved in climate communication with the highest potential to influence people’s climate emotions.



Principal Investigator

Project members

Julia Mosquera PhD, Philosophy