Scared Into Consuming: The Effect of Climate Change Videos on Materialism Values and Operational Consumption

Emma Shriver, The College of Wooster


This study examined the possibility that a scary climate change video could apply to the effects of the Terror Management Theory (TMT). TMT states that in order to deal with the ever pressing anxiety of the knowledge that one day we will die, people act in ways that conform to their worldview, and increase their self-esteem within their culture. These behaviors give meaning to life, and serve as a death anxiety buffer (Kasser & Sheldon, 2000). The scary climate change video was anticipated to serve as a way to increase anxiety about death. Two videos, (scary climate change video and recycling video) were examined in terms of their affect on materialism values, and operational consumption. Participants' individual time perspective orientation was looked at as a possible mediating factor in determining materialism values, and amount of consumption. Results found support for the main hypothesis, in that participants who viewed the scary climate change video had significantly higher materialism values compared to participants in the control condition.