Identifying Types of Eco-Anxiety, Eco-Guilt, Eco-Grief, and Eco-Coping in a Climate-Sensitive Population: A Qualitative Study

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Feb 21;19(4):2461. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19042461.


Background: Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century and it can affect mental health either directly through the experience of environmental traumas or indirectly through the experience of emotional distress and anxiety about the future. However, it is not clear what possible subtypes of the emerging "psychoterratic" syndromes such as eco-anxiety, eco-guilt, and eco-grief exist, how much distress they may cause, and to what extent they facilitate ecofriendly behavior.

Methods: We analyzed semi-structured interviews (N = 17) focusing on the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors related to climate change by using a combination of inductive and deductive qualitative methods.

Results and conclusions: The interviews revealed six eco-anxiety components, eight types of eco-guilt, and two types of eco-grief that help to understand the multifactorial nature of these phenomena. The six categories of coping strategies are in line with traditional coping models, and they are linked in various ways to pro-environmental behavior and the management of negative emotions. The results can help practitioners to gain a deeper understanding of emotions related to climate change and how to cope with them, and researchers to develop comprehensive measurement tools to assess these emotions.

Keywords: climate change; coping; eco-anxiety; eco-grief; eco-guilt; pro-environmental behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Anxiety* / psychology
  • Emotions
  • Grief
  • Guilt
  • Humans
  • Qualitative Research
  • Vulnerable Populations*