Climate opinion and behavior in social data science

Course content

This course will cover data-driven perspectives on climate change opinion and behavior. We will mostly focus on the attitudes and behaviors of ordinary people in the global North; and we will be looking mostly at mitigation (cutting emissions) with only limited attention to adaptation (dealing with the consequences of climate change). The methods discussed in the course will be largely quantitative, with minor journeys into qualitative approaches.


We will investigate psychological topics such as: barriers and drivers of pro-environmental behavior, behavioral change interventions, environmental communication, gamification, and the behavioral economics of climate change. We will also cover topics from political science and sociology, including: measuring climate change opinion via polls, the effects on climate attitudes of norms and social identities, media and social media; and the causes and effects of climate movement participation.


With guest lecturers from SODAS and ITU, we will get familiar with state-of-the art data science research in climate psychology, sociology and mobility studies.


The course will feature hands-on experience of climate behavior interventions in Virtual Reality, and analysis of the data resulting from such a VR intervention.


Full-degree students enrolled at the Department of Political Science, UCPH

  • MSc in Political Science
  • MSc in Social Science
  • MSc in Security Risk Management
  • Bachelor in Political Science


Full-degree students enrolled at the Faculty of Social Science, UCPH 

  • Master Programme in Social Data Science
  • Bachelor and Master Programmes in Sociology
  • Bachelor and Master Programmes in Psychology
  • Master programme in Global Development
  • Bachelor and master programme in Anthropology
Learning outcome


  • know how to measure climate change attitudes and behaviors
  • know what are the main correlates and drivers of these attitudes and behaviors
  • know what are the main approaches to promoting pro-environmental behavior
  • be able to discuss climate attitudes and behaviors from a psychological, political and sociological perspective



  • be able to employ the tools and methods we use in the study of climate psychology, such as questionnaires and experiments
  • be able to employ the tools and methods we use in the study of climate politics and sociology, such as observational studies and media content analysis



  • Be able to critically read and assess state-of-the art research in behavioral science, public opinion studies, and political psychology in the area of climate change.

Interactive lectures

Berger, Sebastian, Andreas Kilchenmann, Oliver Lenz, Axel Ockenfels, Francisco Schlöder, and Annika M. Wyss. 2022. “Large but Diminishing Effects of Climate Action Nudges under Rising Costs.”

Nature Human Behaviour 6 (10): 1381–85.


Bergquist, Parrish, Clara Vandeweerdt, Matto Mildenberger, Peter Howe, Jennifer Marlon. Measuring global concern about climate change with a dynamic, group-level item response theory model. Working paper.


Floyd, Donna L., Steven Prentice-Dunn, and Ronald W. Rogers. 2000. “A Meta-Analysis of Research on Protection Motivation Theory.” Journal of Applied Social Psychology 30 (2): 407–29.


Mackay, Caroline ML, Michael T. Schmitt, Annika E. Lutz, and Jonathan Mendel. "Recent developments in the social identity approach to the psychology of climate change." Current Opinion in Psychology 42 (2021): 95-101.


Maki, Alexander, Amanda R. Carrico, Kaitlin T. Raimi, Heather Barnes Truelove, Brandon Araujo, and Kam Leung Yeung. 2019. “Meta-Analysis of pro-Environmental Behaviour Spillover.” Nature Sustainability 2 (4): 307–15.


Mildenberger, Matto, and Dustin Tingley. "Beliefs about climate beliefs: the importance of second-order opinions for climate politics." British Journal of Political Science 49, no. 4 (2019): 1279-1307.


Nisa, Claudia F., Jocelyn J. Bélanger, Birga M. Schumpe, and Daiane G. Faller. 2019. “Meta-Analysis of Randomised Controlled Trials Testing Behavioural Interventions to Promote Household Action on Climate Change.” Nature Communications 10 (1): 4545.


Simpson, Brent, Robb Willer, and Matthew Feinberg. "Radical flanks of social movements can increase support for moderate factions." PNAS Nexus 1, no. 3 (2022): pgac110.


Valkengoed, Anne M. van, and Linda Steg. 2019. “Meta-Analyses of Factors Motivating Climate Change Adaptation Behaviour.” Nature Climate Change 9 (2): 158–63.

Basic statistics (linear regression, ANOVA) and familiarity with at least one statistical software (e.g. R, SPSS, python) are a prerequisite. A familiarity with applied quantitative research methods (experimental design and analysis, causality in observational studies) is strongly recommended.

Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Type of assessment details
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship

- In the semester where the course takes place: Free written assignment

- In subsequent semesters: Free written assignment

Criteria for exam assessment

Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings

Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings

Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • English
  • 28


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 semester


Department of Political Science, Study Council
Contracting department
  • Department of Political Science
  • Department of Anthropology
  • Department of Psychology
  • Social Data Science
  • Department of Sociology
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Social Sciences
Course Coordinators
  • Clara Johan E Vandeweerdt   (17-6f786d7e6d3a826d7a70718371717e70804c75727f3a77813a7077)
  • Adéla Plechatá   (14-6a6d6e756a3779756e6c716a7d6a49797c8237747e376d74)
Saved on the 28-11-2023

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