The Role of Collective Efficacy in Climate Change Adaptation in India

Jagadish Thaker School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing, Massey University, Manawatu Campus, Palmerston North, New Zealand

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Edward Maibach Department of Communication, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia

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Anthony Leiserowitz School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut

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Xiaoquan Zhao Department of Communication, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia

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Peter Howe Department of Environment and Society, Utah State University, Logan, Utah

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Abstract

Research on adaptive capacity often focuses on economics and technology, despite evidence from the social sciences finding that socially shared beliefs, norms, and networks are critical in increasing individuals’ and communities’ adaptive capacity. Drawing upon social cognitive theory, this paper builds on the first author’s Ph.D. dissertation and examines the role of collective efficacy—people’s shared beliefs about their group’s capabilities to accomplish collective tasks—in influencing Indians’ capacity to adapt to drinking water scarcity, a condition likely to be exacerbated by future climate change. Using data from a national survey (N = 4031), individuals with robust collective efficacy beliefs were found to be more likely to participate in community activities intended to ensure the adequacy of water supplies, and this relationship was found to be stronger in communities with high levels of community collective efficacy compared to communities with low levels of community collective efficacy. In addition, community collective efficacy was positively associated with self-reported community adaptation responses. Public education campaigns aimed at increasing collective efficacy beliefs are likely to increase adaptive capacity.

Corresponding author address: Jagadish Thaker, School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing, Massey University, Room SST 2.01, Social Science Tower, University Avenue, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand. E-mail: j.thaker@massey.ac.nz; emaibach@gmu.edu; anthony.leiserowitz@yale.edu; xzhao3@gmu.edu; peter.howe@usu.edu

Abstract

Research on adaptive capacity often focuses on economics and technology, despite evidence from the social sciences finding that socially shared beliefs, norms, and networks are critical in increasing individuals’ and communities’ adaptive capacity. Drawing upon social cognitive theory, this paper builds on the first author’s Ph.D. dissertation and examines the role of collective efficacy—people’s shared beliefs about their group’s capabilities to accomplish collective tasks—in influencing Indians’ capacity to adapt to drinking water scarcity, a condition likely to be exacerbated by future climate change. Using data from a national survey (N = 4031), individuals with robust collective efficacy beliefs were found to be more likely to participate in community activities intended to ensure the adequacy of water supplies, and this relationship was found to be stronger in communities with high levels of community collective efficacy compared to communities with low levels of community collective efficacy. In addition, community collective efficacy was positively associated with self-reported community adaptation responses. Public education campaigns aimed at increasing collective efficacy beliefs are likely to increase adaptive capacity.

Corresponding author address: Jagadish Thaker, School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing, Massey University, Room SST 2.01, Social Science Tower, University Avenue, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand. E-mail: j.thaker@massey.ac.nz; emaibach@gmu.edu; anthony.leiserowitz@yale.edu; xzhao3@gmu.edu; peter.howe@usu.edu
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