A Study of Public Perceptions of Climate Change Risks and the Propensity to Act on Them in France

- Z. Babutsidze -

Public behavior in face of climate change

The darker the shade of blue, the higher the Climate Change concern
The darker the shade of blue, the higher the Climate Change concern The darker the shade of blue, the higher the Climate Change concern Z. Babutsidze

Academy 3 highlight

The project brings together economists, psychologists, communication and marketing scientists to study individual perceptions and adaptation to climate change risks. This knowledge is key for the development of efficient strategies to commit individuals to relevant green actions.

The project

We aim to understand how French residents comprehend and adapt to increasing risks associated with climate change. To do so, we have investigated the public's behavior from a novel, inter-disciplinary angle involving economics, marketing, social psychology and communication studies.

As part of this effort, we conducted a nation-wide online survey of consumer risk perception, attitudes and behavior. 3500 French residents answered a pool of questions about their understanding of climate change, their perceptions of climatic risk and their behaviors. In addition, a more qualitative, interview-based approach was taken to complement the nation-wide data in a more local context centered on the Département Alpes Maritimes. In parallel, online experiments inferring people’s intentions were implemented in order to study cross-national differences in consumers' reactions to the behavior of others with regard to environment.

From these three sets of data we have uncovered a number of intricate relationships between individual's perception of climate change risks, their level of psychological adaptation, and types of "green actions" that individuals may undertake. For example, it has been found that buying carbon offsets to compensate for the green-house-gas emissions due to travel is a surprisingly unpopular activity in France. It has also been established that "green action" is locally contagious, but only if this action is visible to neighbors. As a result, from the available data, we conclude that the main motivation to act "green" is tied to the willingness to fit in, rather than the willingness to take care of the environment.

Figure ACT report 1
Figure ACT report 1

Figure ACT report 2
Figure ACT report 2

The +

The project has kicked off significant complementary collaborations internally, as well as externally, in order to combine economics with psychology and marketing, and in doing so, to better address adaptation to climate change by jointly relying on individual and country-level characteristics of public behavior. The results will help politicians and stakeholders to develop strategies to more efficiently commit individuals to relevant green actions.

What’s next?

We have produced new datasets that will be further exploited for years to come. The plan involves sets of researchers working on research questions using the common dataset across participating universities. This will further strengthen the collaborations that we have initiated and increase the visibility of the UCA team.


Project information

Scientific domain
Social Sciences (Economics, Psychology, Marketing), Environnemental Sciences

Climate Change,Social perception and behavior
Key words
Climate Change
Risk Perception
Green Behavior
Total budget

42 k€ including :
30 k€ from Académie 3
12 k€ from Académie 2

Students inolved
Dorian Vincileoni
Rolf Kleerebezem                                                          
Partner laboratories
SKEMA Business School
International collaborations
Griffith University
University of Michigan
Michigan State University
Project members
Thierry LONG
Isabella SOSCIA

portrait Zakaria Babutsidze
portrait Zakaria Babutsidze


Project valorization


  • Long T., Pantaléon N., Kleerebezem R. and Babutsidze Z. (2018) Perceptions du changement climatiques et engagement écologique [EN: Climate Change Perceptions and Ecological Engagement]. In "Guide de la transition écologique et citoyenne", pp. 83-86.
  • Babutsidze Z., Bradley G., Chai A., Dietz T., Hales R., Markowitz E. and Nesta L. (2018) Public Perceptions and Responses to Climate Change in France. Research Report. Université Côte d’Azur: Nice.
  • Bradley G., Babutsidze Z., Chai A., Reser J. (2020) The Role of Climate Change Risk Perception, Response Efficacy, and Psychological Adaptation in Pro-environmental Behavior: A Two Nation Study. Journal of Environmental Psychology 68:101410
  • Long T., Kleerebezem R., Pantaleon N., Babutsidze Z. (2020) Does the fact of undergoing natural hazards influence people’s environmental values and ecological commitment? Environmental Values. Forthcoming.
  • Babutsidze, Z., Ann-Kathrin Blankenberg and Andreas Chai (2020) Confirmationbias.com: The rise of digital media and polarisation of pro-environmental attitudes in Europe. Under Review.
logos partenaires ACT
logos partenaires ACT