Academic journal article Journal of International Business Research

Impact of Gender and Political Ideology on Chinese and U.S. College Student's Responses to Climate Change Advocacy Advertisements

Academic journal article Journal of International Business Research

Impact of Gender and Political Ideology on Chinese and U.S. College Student's Responses to Climate Change Advocacy Advertisements

Article excerpt


As the name correctly implies, global warming, or now the more commonly used term, climate change, is a significant issue affecting the entire world. The world's scientific community has largely reached a consensus that (1) global warming is occurring and (2) that human behavior is largely responsible. The most recent evidence is seen in an August 20, 2013, New York Times report of a leaked draft of an upcoming UN Report on climate change (Gillis, 2013). The report, prepared by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international panel of scientists who along with A1 Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, unequivocally indicates that human activity caused more than half of observed increase in the average of global surface temperature in the last half of the 20th century.

While the international scientific community is largely united on the presence and causes of climate change, in the United States, the political debate is far from resolved. Some political leaders deny the existence of global warming and any human culpability, offering the contrarian argument that we are just in a "weather cycle." With political leaders questioning both the existence and cause of climate change, there should be no surprise that there are differing positions by the public on the issue as well (Zhao, Leiserowitz, Maibach and Roser-Renouf, 2011).

Since the U.S and China are the world's two largest economies, arguably, they are the two largest contributors to the problem. As the world's largest economy, the issue of climate change in the U.S. has certainly taken on a prominent role in discussion and political debate. However, as recognition of the international impact of environmental issues has become more evident, environmental attitudes are increasingly being studied in a global context. As the world's second largest economy, more attention is being given to China in terms of environmental attitudes as a precursor to action which will help "save the planet." While climate change as an issue was once rarely publicly discussed in China, He, Hong, Liu, & Tiefenbacher (2011) claim "Chinese citizens are growing more consciousness of the need for environmental protection due to increased perception and cognition of local and regional environmental degradation and the reach of global environmental problems" (p. 92). Moreover, this awareness is leading to behavioral change, as Cherian and Jolly (2012) note that an increasing awareness of environmental problems has led to a change in consumer attitudes toward a green lifestyle, as people are actively trying to reduce their impact on the environment. Further, there are a growing number of studies which have examined the environmental attitudes among segments of the Chinese population (e.g. Harris, 2006; Lee, 2008; Thomas, 2012).

A justification of a comparison of attitudes in the two countries from a cultural standpoint is provided by Lee (2008):

In a theoretical sense, by observing environmental patterns among non- Western societies, we might understand cultural views on human-environment relationships, thus allowing both comparison between Western and non-Westem cultures and exploration of how culture influences individuals' participation in environmental protection. In a practical sense, environmental problems in Asia (China in particular) are becoming more and more serious (Harris, 2006). Because environmental degradation is a global problem that needs global efforts and collaboration, there is an urgent need to motivate environmental participation among members of Asian societies (p. 149).

Since in the United States climate change remains an unresolved issue and there is growing recognition of its importance in China, the topic provides a fertile area for research regarding attitudes on this issue. Therefore, this study uses the issue of global warming to examine differences in Chinese and U.S. college student's responses to climate change advocacy advertisements. …

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