Bachelor Thesis

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Bachelor Thesis

Climate anxiety’s impact on students’ perception about their university’s environmentalism: Corporate environmental responsibility and greenwashing

Satyam Kathpalia Student number 11414065

Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Amsterdam Supervisor: Gulsaziye Ceran

Word count: 6179


Statement of Originality

This document is written by Student Satyam Kathpalia who declares to take full responsibility for the contents of this document.

I declare that the text and the work presented in this document are original and that no sources other than those mentioned in the text and its references have been used in creating it.

UvA Economics and Business is responsible solely for the supervision of completion of the work, not for the contents.



The emphasis in corporate stakeholder relationships is rarely on mental health.

Universities and their students are also rarely considered in discussions about corporate stakeholder relationships even though it is a vital stakeholder relationship. With an increase in extreme weather events among other consequences of climate change, there is also an increase in the impact climate change creates on people’s mental health. So far, there has been no clear evidence that this kind of psychological impact of climate change effects universities. This thesis explores students’ climate anxiety, their perceptions about their university’s corporate environmental responsibility and greenwashing. Furthermore, the relationship between these three constructs is examined by hypothesizing that climate anxiety has a negative effect on perceived corporate environmental responsibility either directly or indirectly through perceived greenwashing. These hypotheses were tested on 39 survey responses using regression analyses.

While the hypothesis that there is a direct negative effect of climate anxiety on perceived corporate environmental responsibility is rejected due to lack of statistical support. The hypothesis that there is an indirect negative effect of climate anxiety on perceived corporate environmental responsibility when mediated through perceived greenwashing found significant statistical support and was accepted.


On the 24th of January 2020, Greta Thunberg exclaimed, “I want you to act like the world is on fire, because it is” at the World Economic Forum in Davos. While the message behind these words spoke to a broader truth, namely, the climate crisis is here and is causing more problems than ever before. At the end of the day, a student arriving tired from school felt another jolt of anxiety caused by climate change (Young, 2020). Reading Masson-Delmotte et al. (2018), it starts to become increasing clear that the problem of human accelerated climate change has existed for decades already. With overwhelming evidence of climate change found in daily lives of individuals, the value given to environmentally conscious choices has increased radically, what was once believed to be a fad is now becoming the norm. Predictions of increased extreme weather events, sea level rise in coastal areas, loss of agriculture, droughts, and a variety of social problems erecting globally more often have created a sense of urgency but also of anxiety for many (Clayton, 2020). While Clayton (2020) makes it clear that this anxiety based on climate change disrupts many human lives on an individual level, it remains unclear if this disruption is limited to the lives of individual humans or if climate


anxiety plays a role in stakeholder relationships and acts as a source of disruption for organizations also, this thesis aims to explore the role climate anxiety may play for organizations. Since climate anxiety is an abstract psychological construct and cannot directly shed light on how it could play a role in stakeholder relationships, constructs that can make climate anxiety’s effects comprehensible in stakeholder relationship terms must be defined.

After an in-depth review of existing literature, perceived corporate environmental responsibility (PCER) and perceived greenwashing (PGW) were used in this thesis to provide clarity about the effect stakeholders’ climate anxiety has on their perceptions of organizations.

An organization’s perceived impact on the environment has led to direct consequences for it across a wide spectrum such as low interest from potential employees and investors, boycott of goods and services by customers, and loss of shareholders’ confidence. However, firms that are perceived positively in terms of corporate social and environmental responsibility tend to enjoy benefits such as increased revenues, motivated employees, and better investment propositions (Pérez, & Del Bosque, 2015). Such impacts can make or break a firm’s short-term and long-term operations, strategy, growth, and survival. This makes it vital to study the relationship between perceived corporate social and environmental responsibility of a firm and its stakeholders, since climate anxiety only takes in account environmental considerations, this thesis focuses on the effects of climate anxiety on perceived corporate environmental responsibility (PCER) and omits perceived corporate social responsibility. Over the last 50 years organizations have tried shift environmental responsibility to others with multibillion- dollar campaigns. For example, for consumers to recycle and manage consumption in the most sustainable way, and for governments to set up the required recycling infrastructure. At the same time these corporations have ramped up plastic production, maximized profits and carbon emissions (Byskov, 2019). This is a prime example of how greenwashing is used to influence stakeholders’ perceptions of corporate environmental responsibility.

It is important to note that it is not any one type of stakeholder that induces these consequences and benefits for a firm, rather it is a combination of all stakeholder groups of a firm including suppliers, consumers, investors, employees, and individuals that are impacted by the firm’s operations (Freeman, 2015). While some previous researchers have evaluated these constructs and the relationships between PCER, PGW, and some of these stakeholder groups (Torelli, Balluchi, & Lazzini, 2020); There is a fundamental research gap when it comes to the higher education organizations and its students as a stakeholder group. Students are one


of the primary stakeholder groups for higher education organizations, students also usually develop an intimate and long-term relationship with their higher education institutes.

Sometimes students even continue at their institutes as employees once they complete their studies. Students and higher education organizations is a unique stakeholder relationship as students are not directly customers, investors, employees, or suppliers, but they partially fill multiple roles at the same time (Vázquez, Lanero, & Licandro, 2013). Therefore, students as a stakeholder group of higher education organizations can provide deep insights into stakeholder- corporation relationships, which makes it important to fill this research gap. Therefore, this thesis aims to answer the following research questions: How does the climate anxiety of a student affect their perception about the university’s corporate environmental responsibility and does perceived greenwashing about the university mediate this relationship?

The University of Amsterdam is chosen as the apt higher education institute, however, this research tries to maintain generalizability, by using the chosen institute only as exemplary in nature. This thesis is organized into five sections: First, was an introduction that briefly introduces the constructs to be studied and their importance from stakeholder theory perspective. Second, theoretical background which further defines what previous literature has clarified about the model constructs and relationships among them. On this basis hypotheses are formed. Third, an explanation of the research methodology used. Fourth, the results of a quantitative data analysis and interpretations about the insights gained from the analyses. Fifth, a conclusive discussion section that summarizes and concludes this thesis.

Theoretical Background and hypothesis formation Climate anxiety

The common public conceptualization of climate change has sometimes been limited to extinction of animals or a problem that primarily effects polar bears. Over the last few years, it has becoming increasingly clear that the wellbeing of humans is starting to bare consequences (Born, 2019). The physical health of all species including of humans is already more vulnerable than it has ever been before. Heat, spread of water, vector and air-borne diseases, and malnutrition threatens the next few decades for human societies. This is of course in combination with the natural and social impacts such as earthquakes and forced migrations (Watts et al., 2019). The spotlight has always been on these aforementioned consequences of climate change, however, the mental health of humans often remains behind the scenes in


climate change discussions even though the link between mental health and climate change has been demonstrated time and again through decades of research showing increased levels of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and substance abuse following hazardous discrete events such as extreme weather (Morganstein & Ursano, 2020). Moreover, indirect effects of climate change on physical and social infrastructure such as disruption in economic or educational activities can further threaten mental health. With predictions of increase in extreme climate change events over the next few years, scarce natural resources will be in competition and forced migrations will cause social distress in the migrants and the communities that must accommodate them. Let alone extreme events, decades of research have shown that even gradual events of climate change can have a several consequences on humans’

mental health. For example, an increase in heat levels have been consistently associated with aggression, conflict, increase in suicides, and hospitalizations for mental illness (Miles-Novelo

& Anderson, 2019; Carleton, 2017; Obradovich, Migliorini, Paulus, & Rahwan, 2018). The existing literature validates the theory that there may be a detrimental causal impact of climate change on mental health.

Recently, one indirect effect of climate change has stood out more than others, even among people who might not have had first-hand experience with climate change. This is the concept of climate anxiety, “anxiety associated with perceptions about climate change” as defined by Clayton (2020) which contains a multitude of definitions and reasonings for why it occurs. Disruption to place identity or attachment, uncertainty about the future of the natural environment, grief about loss of valued places, concern about possible future harm to one’s children, and feelings of existential threats to of current social systems and way of life are a few examples of why one might experience climate anxiety. Moreover, given the reach of the internet and the socially globalized nature of the world, everyone could be impacted by climate anxiety irrespective of their personal risk. In regard to climate change there are various negative emotional responses that could be determined such as anger, grief, or hopelessness, but anxiety appears to be particularly significant at capturing one’s sense of concern (Clayton, 2020).

Multiple surveys that have been conducted on about emotional responses to climate change show that people are showing concern in one way or another across the globe. Varying countries across Europe, outlined that 20% to 40% of people said they are “very worried” in 2016 (Steentjes et al., 2017). In countries that are at significant risk from direct climate change consequences this number was much higher with Tuvaluans reporting 95% distress from climate change (Gibson, Barnett, Haslam, & Kaplan, 2020). It can be said that climate anxiety


is a significant threat to mental health. However, there are much farther-reaching social consequences of climate anxiety. while it has been shown to increase climate activism and sustainable behaviors, people are questioning their choice to have children because of climate change, and this would have detrimental consequences for the entire world that could be headed towards a population decline crisis (Relman & Hickey, 2019; O’Reilly, 2019; Simmons, 2020).

Literature about the climate anxiety is relatively extensive, however, literature about climate anxiety’s impact on students and higher education institutes is limited. Therefore, it is an important research gap that this thesis aims to fill.

For students, climate anxiety could mean intense feelings of being overwhelmed, burned out, bad performance in school and protesting among several other consequences (Kelly, 2017). Universities can take an array of steps to help curb their students’ climate anxiety ranging from validating their students’ feelings, informing students better about climate change and its solutions, utilizing proven therapeutic responses such as wilderness or horticulture therapy, and encouraging engagement in climate change mitigation. Most of all universities need to understand the importance of providing resources that enable individuals to come to terms with the current state of their reality (Clayton, 2020).

Perceived corporate environmental responsibility

Corporate environmental responsibility has to do with an organization’s relationship with the environment. It obliges the decision makers to set aims that protect and improve the environment as a whole and practice the aims, while still aligning with and fulfilling the organization’s own interests (Huckle, 1995). Apart from defining what is meant by corporate environmental responsibility, the concept itself is relatively inapt in the context of this thesis as the emphasis in this thesis is about the how corporate environmental responsibility is perceived by an organization’s stakeholders, in this instance, university students.

Perceived corporate environmental responsibility of an organization (PCER) is a stakeholder’s belief about the environmental responsibility activities of an organization. This perception is different for different kinds of stakeholders, for a purchaser this may be packaging of a product but for a long-term supplier this may be based on the amount of water and energy wastage observed at deliveries over a long period of time. Organizations can use symbolic or substantive environmental strategies to create PCER on their stakeholders (Ouyang, Yao & Hu, 2020). The PCER of an organization is effected by a combination of factors such as


stakeholders’ observations and judgements about an organization’s environmental performance, the general public perception of the organization, the duration and nature of relationship between the stakeholder and the organization, and environmental perceptions about general information and demographics such as the industry and the country within which the organization exists (Ruepert, Keizer & Steg, 2017). While extensive literature exists about the PCER of stakeholders that have short and distant relationships with given organizations, and some literature is there about more long term and intimate stakeholder relationships on PCER. There is research gap when it comes to student-university stakeholder relationship on PCER.

Relationship between climate anxiety and perceived corporate environmental responsibility in the context of student-university relationship – Formation of hypothesis 1

Climate anxiety of students could mean a lot of different things for universities, however, since climate anxiety is an emotional response to a multitude of things, there is potential that universities can mitigate climate anxiety to an extent for their students. In practical terms this could mean employing additional student psychologists, informing students about climate change and communicating more about their initiatives against it, increase in sustainability focused education and research, and reallocation of resources (Clayton, 2020).

This means it’s possible that universities will need to spend a significant amount of resources accommodating to the needs of students that are experiencing climate anxiety to maintain and increase student’s PCER of the university. A low PCER can result in loss of social approval causing disbenefits for the university (Ouyang, Yao & Hu, 2020) such as bad student performance, students dropping out or changing to another university. meaning it would be in the interest of the university to take precautions and actions to minimize its students’ climate anxiety and maximize its PCER. Therefore, it is important to further study the relationship between a student’s climate anxiety and their perceived corporate environment responsibility of the university. Hence, it is hypothesized that students that are experiencing climate anxiety will have a worse perception about the corporate environmental responsibility of their university as compared to students that are experiencing lesser climate anxiety.

H1: Students that are more climate anxious, perceive University of Amsterdam’s corporate environmental responsibility to be lower than students that are less climate anxious.


Perceived greenwashing and its relationship with climate anxiety and PCER – Formation of hypotheses 2, 3 and 4

Over the last few decades, greenwashing, the phenomenon of organizations using misleading environmental communication without truly implementing any practices to decrease their environmental impact, has surfaced and grown radically. Nowadays, it is virtually impossible to know if the products you bought with environmental conservatism in mind and an environmentally conscious looking phrase on the packaging created more or less of a positive impact than the product without any environmentally conscious phrasing on it (Szabo & Webster, 2020). While some organizations sincerely pursue CER practices, other organizations could be using this wave of corporate environmentalism to take advantage of stakeholders that have concerns about climate change by misrepresenting themselves, the purpose of this could be to earn a premium, for example. These misrepresenting organizations can often have a detrimental effect for other organizations, that are pursuing CER sincerely, by creating a general mistrust towards all organizations including innocent ones (Ouyang, Yao &

Hu, 2020). The very nature of misleading is temporary, this means that firms that indulge in excessive greenwashing are bound to be exposed and face consequences such as public defamation, boycotts, hefty fines, strained relationships with suppliers, and loss of shareholders’ confidence (Yang et al., 2020). However, the concept of greenwashing remains subjective, while some might believe a firm is using greenwashing tactics others might not perceive it that way. It can be said that all firms indulge in greenwashing, but the difference lies in the degree to which they appear to be enacting greenwashing practices (Chen, & Chang, 2013; Torelli, Balluchi, & Lazzini, 2020).

The concept of greenwashing has evolved past misrepresenting products in the supermarket and has emerged as a sophisticated tool for organizations that face public scrutiny over environmentally degrading practices to distract or mislead the public and other stakeholders from their continued contribution to the climate crisis for economic gains (Yang et al., 2020). As greenwashing becomes more prominent with billions of dollars spent on greenwashing campaigns in 2019 (Gurung, 2020), stakeholders have started to notice greenwashing, for example, the Dutch advertising code commission reprimanded Shell among several other financial and social consequences for Shell, because of Shell’s “Make the Future”

advertisement campaign which misused the UN’s sustainable development goals to advertise fossil fuels even though Shell was advertising a fuel that was supposedly a cleaner alternative


to diesel (Shell reprimanded for misleading advertising aimed at children, 2019). This example demonstrates how important stakeholders’ perceiving greenwashing is and how it could affect stakeholders’ perceiving CER considering all the social and financial consequences for Shell following the Ad campaign. Perceived greenwashing of an organization on its stakeholders (PGW) as a mediator between climate anxiety and PCER could provide insights on how a stakeholder groups’ level of anxiety about climate change could result in them being more critical of the organization, hence, perceiving more greenwashing and lesser PCER. Since there is a direct relation of energy industry with climate change, there is extensive literature about greenwashing and CER in the energy and other directly environment harming industries.

However, while some research exists about industries that don’t directly harm the environment, there is a research gap when it comes to higher education institutes.

H2: Students that are more climate anxious, perceive University of Amsterdam to be greenwashing more than students that are less climate anxious.

H3: Students that perceive University of Amsterdam’s greenwashing to be higher, perceive the university’s corporate environmental responsibility to belower than students that perceive the university’s greenwashing to be lower.

H4: Students that perceive University of Amsterdam’s greenwashing to be higher which mediates students’ climate anxiety. Hence, students with high climate anxiety indirectly perceive University of Amsterdam’s corporate environmental responsibility to be lower than students who are less climate anxious.

Figure 1 - Conceptual model of a student’s perception about University of Amsterdam’s

corporate environmental responsibility (DV), the student’s climate anxiety (IV) and their perception about University of Amsterdam’s greenwashing (mediator)

Student’s climate anxiety

Student’s Perceived corporate environmental

responsibility about UvA

Student’s Perceived Greenwashing about

the UvA







In an empirical manner, this thesis aims to analyze if the level of a student’s anxiety about climate change (Climate anxiety, IV) and the student’s perception about the level of greenwashing of their university as a mediator (PGW, Mediator) can negatively affect how the student perceives their university’s corporate environmental responsibility (PCER, DV).

Moreover, the thesis also aims to test if climate anxiety and PGW has a positive relationship.

Using a single university to measure if its students’ perception of its environmental responsible and greenwashing was high or low. The University of Amsterdam and its students is the stakeholder relationship chosen for this analysis because of convenience of proximity.


Since this thesis is exploratory in nature, a correlation design was used to test whether the model variables are related and the strength of this using quantitative research methods to measure and analyze the relationships between the model variables as opposed to qualitative research methods that allow for less generalizability (Johnson & Christensen, 2019). However, a correlational design shows a pattern of relation but doesn’t prove causality. Furthermore, Various studies that deal with stakeholder attitudes and perceptions of corporate social responsibility (Shah, Cheema, Al-Ghazali, Ali & Rafiq, 2020), which is a congruent concept to the perceived corporate environmental responsibility (Dependent variable) have mainly used quantitative methods. Therefore, this study adopts the quantitative approach with primary data collection using a cross-sectional design. A cross-sectional design uses one-off collection of data from respondents enabling a large sample to be collected, the trade-off of this when compared to a longitudinal design is that the depth of the data collected is limited, making it difficult to establish causality, further a cross-sectional design cannot establish long-term trends. It is important that this research is generalizable and can be recreated in universities across the globe which is why the University of Amsterdam plays only an exemplary role and specifics about the university and its environment are omitted.


Random sampling when compared to non-random sampling has higher generalizability as everyone in the sample would have an equal probability to be chosen as a participant.

However, random sampling has a higher resource and time requirement which was incompatible with this study, because of this non-random voluntary response sampling was


chosen for this thesis. This choice allowed for timely collection of a pilot feedback with 3 participants and sufficient data collection within the planned time period between the 6th and the 13th of August 2021.

As mentioned in the theoretical background intimacy of this stakeholder relationship is imperative, a minimum enrollment period of 6 months was deemed sufficient to be considered intimate. Therefore, the participants in this study were students of the University of Amsterdam that had been enrolled at the university for a minimum of 6 months. To ensure relevance, only students that were enrolled within the last two years were taken into consideration. A survey that takes an average of 4 minutes to complete was distributed through social media platforms to University of Amsterdam students. In total 47 responses were received out of which 7 were incomplete and one did not agree to participate. This left a total of 39 valid responses.

According to the website of University of Amsterdam, there were 40,000 students enrolled in the year 2020, this demographic in combination with a 95% confidence level, raised the point that a sample size of 39 is small and will negatively impact statistical significance and external validity of the results of this study. It also increases the chance that the study might produce false positive or overestimate the magnitude of the association between model variables (Hackshaw, 2008). However, the condition of collecting at least 30 responses was met which allowed to proceed on to hypotheses testing.

Procedure and participants

A survey was developed and adopted based on existing literature of climate anxiety, PCER and PGW (Appendix 1). In the survey, participants were asked to answer a consent question, two questions that confirmed that they were enrolled for a minimum of 6 months over the last two years. If they answer no to any of these, the survey ended automatically. Once the conditions outlined by these first three questions were met, participants were asked a series of demographic questions. After that, they were asked to read a brief quotation from the European commission’s website about the effects of climate change followed by a few real-world examples of climate change. The reason for this brief and examples was to acquaint the participants with what is meant by climate change in this study’s context. Following this they were asked to rate questions about climate anxiety, PCER and PGW about their university, respectively.


Out of the 39 fully completed responses, 15 (38%) were male, 23 (59%) were female and 1 (3%) was nonbinary/third gender. The age of the participants ranged between 19 and 29 years with mean 22.92, median 23 and modal age of 22 years old. In terms of education demographics, 23 respondents had completed or were bachelor’s students and 16 had completed or were master’s students at the time of the survey.


Climate anxiety is the independent variable in this study’s model and was measured with 13 items on a 5-point Likert scale. Clayton and Karazsia (2020) developed this scale with 22 items in total but after evaluation of this scale, I decided to delete 9 items which were deemed irrelevant or repetitive and adapt the rest to the context of this study. The original anchors from Clayton and Karazsia (2020) “never” and “almost always” were retained and used. Never refers to a respondent having low climate anxiety, while almost always represents high amount of climate anxiety.

Perceived corporate environmental responsibility is the dependent variable in this study’s model and was measured with 9 items on a 5-point Likert scale; these items were adapted from Ouyang, Yao and Hu (2020), Perrini, Castaldo, Misani and Tencati (2010), Ruepert, Keizer and Steg (2017). While previous studies used a 7-point scale, I downgraded this to a 5-point scale to make the survey more mobile friendly. All items had options ranging from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree”. This was meant to allow respondents to express their extent of agreement that the University of Amsterdam is an environmentally responsible organization. Strongly disagree means that the university is perceived to be environmentally irresponsible, while strongly agree means that the university is perceived to be highly environmentally responsible.

Perceived greenwashing is the mediator in this study’s model and was measured with 3 items on a 5-point Likert scale based on Torelli, Balluchi, and Lazzini (2020). While previous studies used a 7-point scale, I downgraded this to a 5-point scale to make it more mobile friendly. All items ranged between “mostly false” and “mostly true”. This was meant to allow respondents to indicate to what extent they believe that the University of Amsterdam is engaging in greenwashing. Mostly false referring to the respondent perceiving that the university mostly does not engage in greenwashing and mostly true meaning that the respondent perceives that the university is highly engaging in greenwashing.


Data Preparation

Prior to proceeding to data analysis, some adjustments were required in the data. First, invalid responses were deleted: In total, 47 survey responses were collected out of which 7 cases were incomplete and 1 case did not agree to participate in the survey following informed consent declaration, hence, these 8 responses were deleted. This left 39 valid responses that could be proceeded with. Second, reversed items 4, 5 and 6 for perceived corporate environmental responsibility (PCER) were recoded as they were counter indicative of the PCER measurement, since a value of 5 for items 4, 5, and 6 indicated low levels of PCER, while a value of 5 on items 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, and 9 indicated high levels of PCER, after recoding these three items, all the items for PCER were consistent and ready for data analysis. Third, reliability analyses were executed to ensure that the items of each variable reliably measured the model variables. The Cronbach’s Alpha for all three variables was > .85 (Table 1; Appendix 2). Hence, the reliability for all three variables’ measurements was high and acceptable, this meant there was no need to delete any item to increase reliability. Finally, three new variables were computed for analysis by compiling the 13 items for Climate Anxiety (CA), 9 items for perceived corporate environmental responsibility of University of Amsterdam (PCER), and 3 items for perceived greenwashing of University of Amsterdam (PGW). These three new variables were used to test the hypotheses.

Results Descriptive statistics and correlations (Appendix 3)

Table 1 below showcases the means, standard deviations, Cronbach’s Alphas, and correlations of the three model variables: climate anxiety, perceived corporate environmental responsibility (PCER), and perceived greenwashing (PGW). Climate anxiety and perceived greenwashing (r = .39, p < 0.015) had a statistically significant moderate (.3 < r < .7) positive correlation. Perceived environmental responsibility and perceived greenwashing (r = -.56, p <

0.001) had a statistically significant moderate negative correlation. However, Climate anxiety and perceived corporate environmental responsibility (r = -.23, p = .151) had no statistically significant correlation. Statistical significance was defined by p-values lower than 0.05, while a p-value higher than 0.05 was considered insignificant. Finally, the Cronbach’s Alphas were higher than 0.85 for all three variables (Appendix 2), this ensured the reliability of the measurements.

Table 1 - Descriptive statistics and correlations


Variable M SD 1 2 3

1. Climate anxiety 2.10 0.64 (.87)

2. Perceived environmental

responsibility 3.24 0.64 -.23 (.86)

3. Perceived greenwashing 3.71 0.93 .39* -.56** (.87)

Notes. N = 39. Cronbach’s Alphas are in parentheses on the diagonal.

† p < .10,

* p < .05,

** p < .01.


To verify that there was no bias in estimated t-values and p-values derived from the coefficients and standard errors of linear regression, the following assumptions were checked.

The linear relationship between the climate anxiety (IV) and the perceived corporate environmental responsibility (DV) was checked using a scatterplot in SPSS. In the scatterplot there was some spread, and it showed a negative linear relationship (Appendix 4a). Therefore, the assumption was met.

This study uses a cross sectional design; therefore, independence of residuals was not an issue. Since residuals that are normally distributed result in stable confidence interval and coefficient estimates, a P-P plot based on regression standardized residuals was used to ensure that the assumption of normality of residuals is met as only a few points strayed from the diagonal line in the plot (Appendix 4b-i). Homoscedasticity of residuals which refers to equal variance between residuals across different values of the IV, this ensures that there is less bias in estimation of standard errors. This was checked using a scatterplot (Appendix 4b-ii) which shows that the variation of residuals was mostly consistent across different values of the IV.

Therefore, the assumption of homoscedasticity of residuals was also met.

To identify outliers, residuals were standardized. Following which two extreme values lower than -2 were found and identified as outliers (Appendix 4c). However, I decided to keep these outliers and prioritize retaining as much information as possible, since the number of valid responses was already low after the deletion of invalid responses. Therefore, the results of this study should be considered with care due to the two outliers present in the data.

Hypothesis testing


Table 2 below showcases the coefficients, standard error, and p-value for the model climate anxiety (IV) effect on perceived environmental responsibility (DV) mediated by perceived greenwashing (M). This table generated using model 4 of PROCESS Macro v3.5 (Hayes, 2018) in SPSS (Appendix 6) is used to test all four hypotheses of this thesis.

Table 2 - Model coefficients for climate anxiety mediated by perceived greenwashing on perceived corporate environmental responsibility

M (Perceived greenwashing)

Y (Perceived corporate environmental responsibility)

Antecedent Coeff. SE p Coeff. SE p

X (Climate anxiety) .57 .22 < .05 -.02 .15 .89

M (Perceived greenwashing)

-.38 0.10 < 0.001

Constant 2.51 .49 < .001 4.68 .40 < 0.001

Model Summary

R2 = .15 R2 = .31

F(1,37) = 6.55, P < .05 F(2,36) = 8.24, P < .01 Indirect effect Coeff. = -0.22, SE = 0.12, LLCI = -0.49, ULCI = -0.038

Hypothesis 1

Hypothesis 1 which states there is a negative direct effect of a student’s climate anxiety on the student’s perception about University of Amsterdam’s corporate environmental responsibility is tested using the output in table 2 above. This output is interpreted as having a statistically insignificant effect of climate anxiety (X) on PCER (Y) as the p-value is .89 which is much greater than 0.05, suggesting that a type 1 is likely to occur. Therefore, hypothesis 1 is rejected.

Hypothesis 2

Hypothesis 2 states that there is a positive effect of a student’s climate anxiety on the student’s perception about University of Amsterdam’s greenwashing, using table 2 this hypothesis is tested. It is interpreted that there is a statistically significant effect of climate


anxiety (X) on perceived greenwashing (M) as the p-value is less .05. The coefficient value is .57, this means that every one unit of increase in climate anxiety results in .57 unit increase in perceived greenwashing. Moreover, the R2 for this model suggests that climate anxiety explains 15% of the variance in PGW with a p-value less than 0.05 showing statistical significance in the R2 value. Hence, hypothesis 2 is statistically supported, meaning that climate anxiety has a positive effect on perceived greenwashing.

Hypothesis 3

Hypothesis 3 which states there is a negative effect of a student’s perception about University of Amsterdam’s greenwashing on the student’s perception about the university’s corporate environmental responsibility is tested using the output in table 2 above. It is interpreted that there is a statistically significant effect of PGW (M) on PCER (Y) as the p- value is less than .05. The coefficient value of -.38 suggests that for every one unit increase in PGW, PCER decreases .38 of a unit. Therefore, hypothesis 3 of this study is supported, suggesting a negative effect of PGW on PCER.

Hypothesis 4

Hypothesis 4 which states there is a negative indirect effect of a student’s climate anxiety on their PCER about the University of Amsterdam via the student’s PGW about the university is tested using the output from table 2 above. Since, the confidence interval of the indirect effect is between -0.49 and -0.038 and does not contain 0, it can be said that the indirect effect is statistically significant. The coefficient value of -.22 translates to a decrease of .22 unit of PCER for one unit increase of climate anxiety. This suggests that there is a decrease in PCER as a result of the effect of climate anxiety on PGW, which in turn affects PCER. Therefore, Hypothesis 4 suggesting an indirect negative effect of climate anxiety on PCER via PGW is supported.


Summary and relation to other findings

The aim of this thesis was to explore whether a student’s climate anxiety affects their perceptions about the university’s corporate environmental responsibility when the student perceives the university to be greenwashing. Since support was not found for hypothesis 1, the results suggest that a student’s climate anxiety does not directly affect the student’s PCER


about the University of Amsterdam. However, support was found Hypotheses 2,3 and 4. This means that a student’s climate anxiety has a positive effect on their perception about University of Amsterdam’s greenwashing, furthermore, the student’s perception of greenwashing has a negative effect on their perception about the University of Amsterdam’s corporate environmental responsibility. Therefore, even though the results do not support a direct effect of climate anxiety on PCER, they do indicate a statistically significant indirect effect of climate anxiety on PCER via PGW.

Future research

The results of this thesis have raised questions about the stakeholder relationship of students and universities, as well as the role mental health plays not only for individuals but for organizations. These results could form a good foundation for future research which aim to study these constructs using a different approach such as another data collection method.


Since this thesis had a relatively small number of respondents, this limited the amount of data that could be analyzed. This could also mean negative implications for this study’s statistical power and external validity. The cross sectional and correlational quantitative research methods used in this thesis raise questions about reverse causality, furthermore, the decision to include outliers when analyzing the data could have had an impact on the results of this study. Still, this thesis remains valid as variables were measured reliably and regression assumptions were met. This suggests that the results of this study should be replicable.

Practical implications

Recently the Green Office of the University of Amsterdam launched its new online interactive platform “the knowledge hub”, designed for interdisciplinary sustainability collaboration among academic staff, administrative staff, and students, and to advance the sustainable development of the university and its operations. The topic of this research could contribute to the knowledge hub as it is focused on the relationship between University of Amsterdam and its students which can help the university better understand the intricacies of student-university stakeholder relationships. This might lead to better sustainability solutions for the future of the University of Amsterdam. This thesis will be shared on the knowledge hub. Moreover, as mentioned in the theoretical framework of this thesis, the university could


take steps to mitigate climate anxiety, decrease PGW and increase its PCER as existing literature has shown that an increased PCER and decreased PGW is beneficial to organizations.


Existing literature sheds a light on each of the constructs used in this thesis, however, there was fundamental research gap about the relationship between these three constructs and the exact nature between them. This thesis explored this relationship as previous literature has not. The results showed that there is a negative indirect and significant effect of a student’s climate anxiety on their perception about corporate environmental responsibility of their university through the student’s perception about the university’s greenwashing. Moreover, there is a direct positive and significant effect of the student’s perception about greenwashing of their university on their PCER about the university. In conclusion, to answer the research question of this thesis, an increase in climate anxiety has a positive effect on PGW and a positive effect on PGW leads to negative effect on PCER; this is in the context on student- university stakeholder relationships.



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Appendices Appendix 1: Thesis Survey

Start of Block: Invitation to participate in research survey

Q1.1 You are invited to participate in a research study that has the goal to understand the perception students have about the University of Amsterdam.

The qualification to participate in this study is that you are or have been a student at the University of Amsterdam in the last 2 years and that you have been enrolled for at least 6 months during that time, this is to ensure that the results of this research are relevant. Participation in this study is voluntary.

If you agree to participate in this study, you will fill out an online survey based on the Qualtrics survey platform. This survey takes an average of 4 minutes to fill out. The gathered information will be kept completely confidential and will not be used for any commercial goals.

This study is being conducted by Satyam Kathpalia under the Faculty of Economics and Business of the University of Amsterdam. For any correspondence mail:

Q1.2 Informed consent declaration

Q1.3 I hereby declare that I have been informed in a clear manner about the nature and method of the research. I agree, fully and voluntarily, to participate in this research study. With this, I retain the right to withdraw my consent without having to give a reason for doing so. I am aware that I may halt my participation in the experiment at any time.


If my research results are used in scientific publications or are made public in another way, this will be done such a way that my anonymity is completely safeguarded. My personal data will not be passed on to third parties without my permission.

Q1.4 Do you agree to participate in this research survey?


Yes (1)


No (0)

Skip To: End of Survey If Q1.4 = No

Q1.5 Are you a student or have you been a student at the University of Amsterdam within the past 2 years?


Yes (1)


No (0)

Skip To: End of Survey If Q1.5 = No

Q1.6 Have/had you been enrolled at the University of Amsterdam for at least 6 months?


Yes (1)


No (0)

Skip To: End of Survey If Q1.6 = No

End of Block: Invitation to participate in research survey

Start of Block: Block 2


Q2.1 What is your gender?


Male (1)


Female (2)


Non-binary / third gender (3)


Prefer not to say (4)

Q2.2 How old are you?


Q2.3 What is level of highest education you have achieved/are following at the University of Amsterdam?


Did not complete university program (Dropped out) (1)


Bachelor's student (2)


Master's student (3)


PhD (4)


Minor student (5)


Exchange student (6)


Other (7) ________________________________________________

End of Block: Block 2

Start of Block: Block 3

Q3.1 For the next set of questions please read through the following:

According to the European Commission website, “Climate change affects all regions around the


world. Polar ice shields are melting, and the sea is rising. In some regions extreme weather events and rainfall are becoming more common while others are experiencing more extreme heat waves and droughts. These impacts are expected to intensify in the coming decades.”

Some recent potential examples of climate change are: Floods in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium; Wildfires in Turkey; Heatwaves in Canada and the United States.

Q3.2 Please answer how you feel about the following:


Never (1) Rarely (2) Sometimes (3) Often (4) Almost always (5) Thinking about

climate change makes it difficult for me to concentrate.


o o o o o

Thinking about climate change

makes it difficult for me

to sleep. (2)

o o o o o

I have nightmares about climate

change. (3)

o o o o o

I find myself crying because

of climate

change (4)

o o o o o

I think, “why can't I handle climate change

better?” (5)

o o o o o

I write down my thoughts about climate change

with the intention to analyze them


o o o o o

My concerns about climate change make it

hard for me to have fun with

my family or friends. (7)

o o o o o

I have problems balancing my concerns about climate change with the needs of my family.


o o o o o


My concerns about climate

change interfere with my ability to get

work or school assignments

done. (9)

o o o o o

My concerns about climate

change undermine my ability to work

to my full potential. (10)

o o o o o

I am told that I think about climate change

too much. (11)

o o o o o

I wish I contributed less

to climate

change. (12)

o o o o o

I feel guilty if I waste energy or

don’t recycle.


o o o o o

End of Block: Block 3

Start of Block: Block 4

Q4.1 Please answer to what extent you agree with the following statements:



disagree (1) disagree (2)

Neither agree nor disagree


agree (4) Strongly agree (5)

I believe that the University of Amsterdam is

aware of environmental

issues. (1)

o o o o o

I believe that the University of Amsterdam cares for the

natural environment.


o o o o o

I believe that the University of Amsterdam is

attentive to recycling of materials. (3)

o o o o o

I believe that the University of Amsterdam invests in fossil

fuel. (4)

o o o o o

I believe that the University of Amsterdam contributes to deforestation.


o o o o o

I believe that the University of Amsterdam

has partnerships with entities that damage

the environment.


o o o o o


I believe that the University of Amsterdam participates in government initiatives to improve environmental

practices. (7)

o o o o o

I believe that the University of Amsterdam has set goals and targets to minimalize its impact on the environment.


o o o o o

I believe that the University of Amsterdam has taken action to minimalize its impact on the environment.


o o o o o

End of Block: Block 4

Start of Block: Block 5


Q5.1 Please answer to what extent you believe the following statements are true:

Mostly False (1)

Somewhat false (2)

Neither true nor false (3)

Somewhat True (4)

Mostly True (5) I believe that

the University of Amsterdam presents itself

as more environmentally

aware than it actually is. (1)

o o o o o

I believe that the University of

Amsterdam presents itself

as environmentally

aware in order to improve its reputation. (2)

o o o o o

I believe that the University of

Amsterdam has hidden intentions and interests when they engage in environmentally

friendly practices. (3)

o o o o o

End of Block: Block 5

Appendix 2: Reliability a. Climate anxiety


b. Perceived corporate environmental responsibility


c. Perceived greenwashing

Appendix 3: Descriptive statistics and correlations


Appendix 4: Assumptions for linear regression

a. Linearity – Scatterplot relationship between IV and DV

b. Assumptions for residuals of regression i. Normality of residuals check P-P plot


ii. Homoscedasticity of residuals

c. Outliers (2 outliers) Outliers < -2; 2 outliers


Appendix 5: Linear regression analysis between climate anxiety and perceived corporate environmental responsibility

Appendix 6: Mediation model (Model 4) output for PROCESS Macro v3.5

Run MATRIX procedure:

**************** PROCESS Procedure for SPSS Version 3.5.2 ****************

Written by Andrew F. Hayes, Ph.D. Documentation available in Hayes (2018).


Model : 4 Y : PCER X : CA M : PGW Sample Size: 39





Model Summary

R R-sq MSE F df1 df2 p .3879 .1505 .7611 6.5543 1.0000 37.0000 .0147 Model

coeff se t p LLCI ULCI constant 2.5094 .4891 5.1304 .0000 1.5183 3.5004 CA .5702 .2227 2.5601 .0147 .1189 1.0215




Model Summary

R R-sq MSE F df1 df2 p .5604 .3140 .2951 8.2409 2.0000 36.0000 .0011 Model

coeff se t p LLCI ULCI constant 4.6793 .3984 11.7453 .0000 3.8713 5.4873 CA -.0203 .1505 -.1349 .8935 -.3254 .2849 PGW -.3775 .1024 -3.6875 .0007 -.5850 -.1699

****************** DIRECT AND INDIRECT EFFECTS OF X ON Y *****************

Direct effect of X on Y

Effect se t p LLCI ULCI -.0203 .1505 -.1349 .8935 -.3254 .2849 Indirect effect(s) of X on Y:

Effect BootSE BootLLCI BootULCI PGW -.2152 .1158 -.4919 -.0375

*********************** ANALYSIS NOTES AND ERRORS ************************

Level of confidence for all confidence intervals in output:


Number of bootstrap samples for percentile bootstrap confidence intervals:


--- END MATRIX ---




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