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Individual and local flooding experiences are differentially associated with subjective attribution and climate change concern


While several studies show an association between flooding experience and climate change engagement, a few show no evidence of such a link. Here, we explore the potential that this inconsistency relates to the measurement of flooding experience in terms of individual versus local experience, and the subsumption of multiple distinct constructs within composite indicators of climate change engagement. Using national survey data from Norway, we show that individual and local flooding experiences differentially predict subjective attribution and climate change concern. People with individual flooding experience reported significantly greater climate change concern than those with local, or no, flooding experience. Subjective attribution of flooding to climate change did not differ significantly between people with individual versus local flooding experience, except among those with a right-wing political orientation where individual experience was associated with greater subjective attribution. Our findings highlight the need for careful operationalisation of flooding experience and climate change engagement in subsequent research.

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  1. Climate change engagement encompasses cognitive, affective and behavioural indicators including awareness, concern and motivation to act (Lorenzoni et al. 2007).

  2. None of the studies showing a null or significant effect of flooding experience on climate change attitudes cited here tested an interaction between flooding experience and ideological or political orientation. Lyons et al. (2018) found that self-reported polar vortex and drought experiences significantly interacted with party affiliation in predicting climate change beliefs in the USA.

  3. Subjective attribution refers to a personal understanding that an extreme weather event is causally connected to, or is a sign of, climate change (Ogunbode et al. 2019b).

  4. One case had missing data.

  5. The interaction was probed at percentiles of political orientation scores, as opposed to one standard deviation above and below the mean, to avoid the risk of selecting values outside the range of the data (Aiken and West 1991).


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The data presented in this publication are based on Norwegian Citizen Panel Wave 14 [2019]. The data are provided by ideas2evidence and distributed by the Norwegian Centre for Research Data (NSD). Neither UiB nor NSD are responsible for the analyses/interpretation of the data presented here.


The survey was financed by the University of Bergen (UiB) and Trond Mohn Foundation.

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Correspondence to Charles A. Ogunbode.

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Ogunbode, C.A., Doran, R. & Böhm, G. Individual and local flooding experiences are differentially associated with subjective attribution and climate change concern. Climatic Change 162, 2243–2255 (2020).

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  • Flooding
  • Climate change
  • Experience
  • Attribution
  • Psychology