Estonian high-school students’ increasing pessimism in predicting solvability of global problems
Merle Talvik, Mati Talvik, Martin Talvik

We live in a period of time when Estonian people, as citizens of the EU, sense instability in their everyday lives. The world’s economic order has fallen into crisis and global problems surface as a consequence of civilization’s progress, prefiguring a bigger and bigger threat to the continuation of humankind. In this study the attitude towards the global problems of high-school students, and the shift in the perception of these problems in the past two decades, are examined. The survey was conducted using A World Problem Questionnaire (Chlewiński & Zaleski, 1991) in which 32 global problems were listed. In 2012 we added seven statements describing global problems which may also become crucial in the future. The survey results indicate that global environmental problems are the ones that people were most concerned with both twenty years ago and today. Compared to the past survey, the present students were more worried about the exhaustion of energy resources, the continuous growth of the world population, and the issues of social inequality. Problems concerning folklore disappearance have become more important, whereas the danger of nuclear war and AIDS have become less important. There was a pessimistic outlook concerning finding solutions to crucial global problems in the future and that pessimism has increased in the course of years. It also appears that the results are affected by socio-demographic factors (gender, region and language of study). The majority of global problems deemed important were congruent with those discussed in the media, which allows us to state that the media amplifies the already crucial issues (e.g. environmental ones).

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