Meta-analyses of factors motivating climate change adaptation behaviour


Adaptation behaviour is of critical importance to reduce or avoid negative impacts of climate change. Many studies have examined which factors motivate individuals to adapt. However, a comprehensive overview of the key motivating factors of various adaptation behaviours is lacking. Here, we conduct a series of meta-analyses using data from 106 studies (90 papers) conducted in 23 different countries to examine how 13 motivational factors relate to various adaptation behaviours. Descriptive norms, negative affect, perceived self-efficacy and outcome efficacy of adaptive actions were most strongly associated with adaptive behaviour. In contrast, knowledge and experience, which are often assumed to be key barriers to adaptation, were relatively weakly related to adaptation. Research has disproportionally focused on studying experience and risk perception, flooding and hurricanes, and preparedness behaviours, while other motivational factors, hazards and adaptive behaviours have been understudied. These results point to important avenues for future research.

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Fig. 1: Mean meta-analytical effect sizes.
Fig. 2: Types of climate-related hazards examined.
Fig. 3: Types of adaptive behaviours examined.

Data availability

The datasets generated and/or analysed during the current study are available in the Open Science Framework repository:


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We thank all the authors who corresponded with us to provide the necessary data for these meta-analyses or to clarify any questions about their work.

Author information




A.M.v.V. and L.S. developed the idea for the paper and defined the scope for the meta-analyses. A.M.v.V. conducted the literature search and analysed the data. A.M.v.V. and L.S. wrote the paper.

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Correspondence to Anne M. van Valkengoed.

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Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Tables 1–3, Supplementary Figures 1–3

Reporting Summary

Supplementary Data 1

Contains an overview of all included studies, their sample sizes, the extracted data points for each analysis and references for all studies

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van Valkengoed, A.M., Steg, L. Meta-analyses of factors motivating climate change adaptation behaviour. Nature Clim Change 9, 158–163 (2019).

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