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dc.contributor.advisorLongnecker, Nancy
dc.contributor.advisorHigham, James
dc.contributor.authorFletcher, Jean Marguerite
dc.date.available2019-02-07T22:44:15Z
dc.date.copyright2019
dc.identifier.citationFletcher, J. M. (2019). Travelling towards 2050: Climate change, storytelling and the future of travel (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy). University of Otago. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10523/8923en
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10523/8923
dc.description.abstractClimate change is a serious threat that is expected to have grave consequences for humans and ecosystems. Current travel (both daily commuting and holiday tourism) is a significant contributor to climate change. Therefore, travel systems must change if the severe impacts of climate change are to be minimised. The perception that climate change will primarily affect the distant future has been identified as a barrier to mitigating climate change. Since humans have difficulty visualising distant futures, individuals may struggle to picture alternative, low carbon futures. The science communication literature proposes that story may be able to help address these challenges. This thesis addresses the literature’s call for more empirical research investigating story as a tool for science communication. In this instance, the context involves communicating about low carbon futures by exploring participants’ perceptions of travel in the year 2050 and how these perceptions change after reading a story intervention. The research examined whether participants’ expectations of travel in the year 2050 were: i) consistent with the notion of a low carbon mobility future and ii) related to their levels of climate change concern. It also investigated whether temporal distance influenced individual’s levels of climate change concern. Next, this thesis explored whether story could help individuals visualise the distant future and whether story could influence participants’ expectations of travel in 2050 to make them more consistent with the idea of a low carbon mobility future. In order to gain a holistic understanding of the issue, a pragmatic, mixed methods approach was adopted. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected. Quantitative data were analysed using descriptive statistics and nonparametric statistics. Thematic coding was used to analyse the qualitative data. Data were collected in 2016 through two online surveys. The Temporal Distance Survey targeted the American general public, surveying residents a few weeks before the 2016 presidential election (N = 1071). The influence of temporal distance on views about climate change was explored through participants’ self-reported ability to visualise the year 2050, their optimism and their attitudes towards technology. The Story Survey targeted younger, well-educated participants who reported high levels of concern about climate change to determine whether a cohort that would be expected to be thinking about more sustainable travel in the future did, in fact, hold views consistent with low carbon mobility. The Story Survey provided 401 useable responses regarding expectations of future travel, 350 which could also be used to examine the influence of story. Participants in the Story Survey read either a short narrative style story intervention (~1500 words, n = 167) or a fictional expository style textbook intervention (~500 words, n = 183). In the Temporal Distance survey, 44% of participants stated that they were very concerned about climate change compared to 66% of participants in the Story Survey. Despite being concerned, participants did not necessarily associate future travel with low carbon mobility. Only 28% of the American general public in the Temporal Distance Survey and 43% of participants in the Story Survey (a climate concerned cohort) mentioned low carbon mobility options when first asked to describe travel in the year 2050. They also expressed many expectations of future travel that could work to perpetuate current high carbon systems. Expectations of low carbon future travel were related to levels of climate change concern as participants who reported higher levels of concern about climate change were more likely to mention low carbon mobility when describing travel in the year 2050 in both the Temporal Distance Survey and Story Survey. The Temporal Distance Survey found that participants’ perceived ability to visualise temporal distance was not significantly correlated with their level of concern about climate change. In terms of the influence of story, participants said it was difficult to picture the year 2050; however, reading either the story intervention or the textbook intervention improved self-reported ability to visualise the year 2050. Participants’ descriptions of travel in the year 2050 also became more story consistent (i.e. more reflective of having transitioned to low carbon mobility systems) after reading either the story or textbook intervention. However, the textbook intervention was more effective at changing participants’ expectations, possibly due to a clearer cause and effect explanation in the textbook intervention. This thesis provides a snapshot of people’s perceptions of future travel at a potential turning point in history. Despite being concerned about climate change the majority of participants were not thinking about how mobility systems need to change in order to meet climate change mitigation goals. This thesis contributed an empirical test of previous claims that story could be an effective tool for communicating about climate change. This thesis found story can help people visualise alternative low carbon futures, get them to think about future travel, and suggests story may be useful for stimulating discussion. This research demonstrates the potential of story. Science communicators should continue exploring how story can be used to facilitate the urgent and overdue transition to a low carbon economy, by examining potentially important factors affecting persuasion including identity and narrative empathy as well as strategies for changing behaviour such as description of actionable pathways.
dc.format.mimetypeapplication/pdf
dc.language.isoen
dc.publisherUniversity of Otago
dc.rightsAll items in OUR Archive are provided for private study and research purposes and are protected by copyright with all rights reserved unless otherwise indicated.
dc.subjectLow carbon mobility
dc.subjectFuture travel
dc.subjectClimate change
dc.subject2050
dc.subjectStorytelling
dc.subjectScience communication
dc.titleTravelling towards 2050: Climate change, storytelling and the future of travel
dc.typeThesis
dc.date.updated2019-02-07T21:22:14Z
dc.language.rfc3066en
thesis.degree.disciplineScience Communication
thesis.degree.nameDoctor of Philosophy
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Otago
thesis.degree.levelDoctoral
otago.openaccessOpen
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