Press release №2218
16.10.2019
GRETA THUNBERG: ACTIVIST OR PUPPET?

IN BRIEF

  • 37% of Russians are aware of who Greta Thunberg is
  • Of them, 40% perceive her activism positively
  • 27% express negative opinions
  • Positive perceptions are related to Thunberg’s environmental activities (74%)
  • 67% of those who heard of G. Thunberg say she is unable to understand the effects of her activity
  • G. Thunberg and her supporters cannot influence climate changes (73% of those who have heard of G. Thunberg).

The Swedish activist is known to every third Russian. The topic and emotional content of her activism inspire respect but her aggressive attitude and young age are perceived as suspicious and repulsing.

MOSCOW, October 16, 2019. Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM) presents the data of a survey describing the attitudes of Russians towards Greta Thunberg and her activism.

Greta Thunberg, a young environmental activist from Sweden, is known to 37% of Russians. Those respondents who heard of her are more likely Russians aged 45-59 and persons aged 60 and over (45% and 40% respectively), as well as every second metropolitan resident (56%). However, more than half of respondents heard her name for the first time during the survey (63%).

What do Russians know about Greta Thunberg? She is mainly known as an environmental activist (40%). Eleven percent of respondents are aware that she delivered a speech at the UN; 9% are confident she is not independent in her activity. Seven percent know her to have met politicians and delivered speeches at press conferences.

As to the feelings Great Thunberg evokes in Russians, indifference is dominant (13%; negative emotions (12%) prevail over the positive ones (11%).

Forty percent of Russians who heard of G. Thunberg perceive her positively; one-third of respondents are indifferent (31%); 27% have negative perceptions. Positive perceptions are mainly related to the fact that G. Thunberg is involved in environmental activities and tries to attract more attention to the issue (74%). Negative perceptions result from a viewpoint that children of your age should go to school rather than being involved in environmental activity (37%), or that she is not an independent activist (33%).

Of those who heard of G.Thunberg, 43% saw her speeches and consider them important; 16% consider them unimportant; 34% have not seen her speeches at all.  As to the emotional side of the young activist, those Russians who saw her speeches are divided in their opinions:  45% say her aggressive attitude is inappropriate; 41% say her aggressive behavior means that she is involved, and it is acceptable. Most of those who heard of G.Thunberg would not like their children or grandchildren to follow her steps (75%).

Most of Russians who heard of G.Thunberg consider that she does not fully understand the consequences of her activism and that she is influenced by other people (67%). According to 43% of those who heard of G.Thunberg, her speeches will not do either good or harm to the planet. Another one-third of Russians say that her activity is likely to be useful (27%). Almost half of respondents (47%) are likely to think that Thunberg and her supporters will not be able to change the situation on the planet for the better; 26% are confident in that.

VCIOM-Sputnik survey was conducted on October 10, 2019. The survey involved 1,600 Russians aged 18 and over. The survey was telephone-based and carried out using stratified dual-frame random sample based on a complete list of landline and mobile phone numbers operating in Russia. The data were weighted according to selection probability and social and demographic characteristics. The margin of error at a 95% confidence level does not exceed 2.5%. In addition to sampling error, minor changes in question wording and different circumstances arising during the fieldwork can introduce bias into the survey.

Have you heard/do you hear for the first time about Greta Thunberg and her activity? (closed-ended question, one answer, % of total respondents)
  Total Aged 18-24 Aged 25-34 Aged 35-44 Aged 45-59 Aged 60 and over
I am well aware 7 6 8 7 7 7
I heard something but I do  not know any details 19 10 14 16 24 21
I only know her name; I know nothing about her activity   11 7 7 9 14 12
This is the first time I hear her name 63 77 70 67 55 59
Don’t know 0 0 1 1 0 1

Have you heard/do you hear for the first time about Greta Thunberg and her activity? (closed-ended question, one answer, % of total respondents)
  Total Moscow and St Petersburg Million cities 500-950,000 inhabitants 100,000–500,000 inhabitants Less than 100,000 inhabitants Rural area
I am well aware 7 16 7 5 8 6 3
I heard something but I do  not know any details 19 30 27 19 24 14 10
I only know her name; I know nothing about her activity  11 10 14 10 12 10 9
This is the first time I hear her name 63 43 51 66 56 70 78
Don’t know 0 1 1 0 0 0 0

What is Greta Thunberg famous for; what do you know about her activity? (open-ended question, up to 3 answers, % of those who heard about Greta Thunberg — 37%)
  Total
Environmental activist / struggling for environment and climate 40
UN speech 11
Not independent; she is being exploited by others 9
Speeches at press conferences, meetings with politicians   7
Minor / 16-year-old girl from Sweden 6
Tough statements, criticism, accusations addressed to global leaders 5
Mentally ill child 4
She is calling for school striking (missing lessons)   4
She is busy with things she is not good at   3
Her statement about the stolen childhood and future   2
I know little about her 1
She urges not to fly airplanes  1
Other 4
Don’t know 30

Greta Thunberg is a Swedish schoolgirl and environmental activist. What feelings does she evoke in you? (open-ended question, up to 3 answers, %  of those who heard about Greta Thunberg — 37%)
  Total
Indifference, no emotions 13
Negative emotions 12
Positive emotions 11
Not independent; someone uses her 10
Pity 10
Children of your age should not deal with things like that; she cannot understand many things due to her age 6
Admiration (good girl) 5
Ill girl   4
I support her ideas / positive attitude towards her activity 4
Neutral attitude 3
Compassion 3
Ambiguous feelings 3
A girl for promotion 2
I do not support her ideas / methods of struggle 2
Perplexity 2
Other 4
Don’t know 24

Greta Thunberg publicly voices her stance on environmental problems, climate change; she meets politicians, top public officials. How do you perceive her activity? (closed-ended question, one answer, %  of those who heard about Greta Thunberg — 37%)
  Total
Likely positively 40
Likely negatively 27
Indifferent 31
Don’t know 2

Why do you have a positive perception? (open-ended question, up to 3 answers, %  of those who heard about Greta Thunberg and perceive her activity positively — 15%)
  Total
She is busy with environmental issues; she tries to attract attention to this problem   74
She pursues her goal; she expresses her opinion 12
Someone has to talk about that and do something 6
Active position; struggling for the future 4
She has found an interesting thing to do 1
Other 6
Don’t know 8

Why do you have a negative perception? (open-ended question, up to 3 answers, %  of those who heard about Greta Thunberg and perceive her activity negatively  — 10%)
  Total
Children of her age should go to school; due to her age she does not know many things and does not understand environmental problems   37
Not independent; someone uses her (adult games) 33
Minor / 16-year-old girl; she does not understand what she does   16
I dislike the way she expresses her thoughts and ideas   9
It is a “grandstand play”,  publicity move   8
Ill girl 6
It is impossible to solve environmental problems; her actions do not mean anything   5
I do not like her personality (ventures, destructive behavior) 3
No trust 2
Other  7
Don’t know 5

In your opinion, does Greta Thunberg raise important or not important problems? If it is hard for you to assess or you have not seen her speeches, just tell that. (closed-ended question, one answer , %  of those who heard about Greta Thunberg — 37%)
  Total
Likely important 43
Likely not important 16
I have no seen the speeches of Greta Thunberg 34
Don’t know 7

Greta Thunberg is very emotional. Some people say that her behavior is too aggressive and inappropriate. Others say that her behavior is a sign of personal involvement and quite acceptable. Which of these opinions do you most agree with? (closed-ended question, one answer , %  of those who heard about Greta Thunberg and saw her speeches — 24%)
  Total
Greta Thunberg is too aggressive; it is not appropriate 45
The behavior of  Greta Thunberg means that she is involved; it is quite acceptable   41
Don’t know 14

Which of the statements about the activity of Greta Thunberg do you agree with the most?  (closed-ended question, one answer , %  of those who heard about Greta Thunberg — 37%)
  Total
Greta Thunberg acts according to her beliefs; she understands quite well the consequences of her actins   16
She does not quite understand the consequences of her actions; she in influenced by other people who pursue their own interest   67
Don’t know 17

In your opinion, will the activities of environmental activists such as Greta Thunberg help solve global environmental problems, or will they do more harm? (closed-ended question, one answer , %  of those who heard about Greta Thunberg — 37%)
  Total
They will do more good 27
They will do more harm 10
Equally harm and good 13
Neither harm nor good 43
Don’t know 7

In your opinion, are Greta Thunberg and her supporters able to change the situation concerning the climate change and ecology on Earth? (closed-ended question, one answer , %  of those who heard about Greta Thunberg — 37%)
  Total
They are definitely able to do that 1
They are likely to be able to do that 19
They are unlikely to be able to do that 47
They are definitely not able to do that 26
Don’t know 7

Would you like your children/grandchildren to follow the steps of Greta Thunberg?  (closed-ended question, one answer, %  of those who heard about Greta Thunberg — 37%)
  Total
Rather yes 14
Rather not 75
Don’t know 11

Note: Using materials from the site www.wciom.ru or wciom.com, as well as distributed by VCIOM, the reference to the source (or hyperlink for the electronic media) is obligatory.
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