I study how psychological and social motivations promote or prevent sustainable behaviors, especially those related to climate change. I have three broad areas of research: (1) how people compare their own beliefs and behaviors to others, (2) how adopting one pro-environmental behavior affects later action, and (3) how climate change communication affects people’s understanding, behaviors, and support for climate policies and technologies.
My research is on the social and psychological motivations for sustainable behavior and policy support. I study how people think about themselves in relation to other people and how people’s idea of their own identity and social standing affects their support for policy measures, particularly those related to climate change and other environmental issues.
I’ve addressed questions related to:
People sometimes feel that their beliefs are superior to alternatives. Who tends to feel superior about their beliefs? How does this affect their willingness to consider alternative options? What does this mean for their ability to get along with others or compromise? Do some people feel superior about all their beliefs or do people only feel superior about some types of beliefs?
Behavioral and Policy Spillover
What happens if you successfully get people to change one environmental behavior? What does that mean for other behaviors? Are people more likely to take on new environmental action if they’ve gotten a taste for doing one new behavior? Or do they feel like they are off the hook after doing the first behavior? What about policies? If you talk about climate change adapation or carbon dioxide removal, does that make people feel like they don’t need to engage in climate change mitigation?
Communicating about Climate Change and Related Technologies and Policies
How can we talk about climate change that moves away from the polarized (and polarizing) ways it’s been talked about in the past? Are there ways of talking about climate change that allow for more nuanced and less polarized discussions about it? How do people react to learning about climate-related technologies like geoengineering? How does communication affect public support for climate change mitigation policies?
Social Comparisons and Reputation Management
Can people be motivated to improve their climate-relevant behavior if they think their peers are already acting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? What if they think other people could learn about their own climate-damaging behavior? What if the people who will care the most about climate change aren’t even born yet – can concerns about one’s reputational legacy promote climate change action?