Beliefs about whose beliefs? Second-order beliefs and support for China's coal-to-gas policy

Jonathon P. Schuldt*, Y. Connie Yuan, Celine SONG, Kai Liu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Recent studies reveal that beliefs about others' beliefs, or “second-order” beliefs, play a larger role in environmental public opinion than previously recognized. However, questions remain regarding which second-order beliefs should be most predictive, and under what conditions. We explored these questions within the context of China's coal-to-gas policy—a recent national energy conversion that has created economic challenges for millions of Chinese households that rely on inexpensive coal for heating—by conducting 602 face-to-face interviews with a socioeconomically diverse sample of residents from eight provinces and two large municipalities. Interviews occurred in the winter of 2018, during the policy's rollout period. Although they may be expected to have limited predictive power under these conditions, results showed that second-order beliefs, particularly those regarding proximal reference groups (e.g., “My friends and family” and “Chinese people in general”), strongly predicted individual-level policy support, over-and-above key demographic variables and first-order environmental beliefs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101367
JournalJournal of Environmental Psychology
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

User-Defined Keywords

  • China
  • Climate change
  • Coal-to-gas
  • Policy support
  • Second-order beliefs


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