Promoting Protection Against a Threat That Evokes Positive Affect: The Case of Heat Waves in the United Kingdom

J Exp Psychol Appl. 2016 Sep;22(3):261-71. doi: 10.1037/xap0000083. Epub 2016 Jun 6.


Heat waves can cause death, illness, and discomfort, and are expected to become more frequent as a result of climate change. Yet, United Kingdom residents have positive feelings about hot summers that may undermine their willingness to protect themselves against heat. We randomly assigned United Kingdom participants to 1 of 3 intervention strategies intended to promote heat protection, or to a control group. The first strategy aimed to build on the availability heuristic by asking participants to remember high summer temperatures, but it elicited thoughts of pleasantly hot summer weather. The second strategy aimed to build on the affect heuristic by evoking negative affect about summer temperatures, but it evoked thoughts of unpleasantly cold summer weather. The third strategy combined these 2 approaches and succeeded in evoking thoughts of unpleasantly hot summer weather. Across 2 experiments, the third (combined) strategy increased participants' expressed intentions to protect against heat compared with the control group, while performing at least as well as the 2 component strategies. We discuss implications for developing interventions about other "pleasant hazards." (PsycINFO Database Record

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Aged
  • Climate Change*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Hot Temperature*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • United Kingdom