Category Archives: Psychology

What’s the link between the rising tide of populist politics and climate denial?

flooded warning signsThis post is by Matthew Lockwood, senior research fellow at the University of Exeter.

Last week I blogged on how UKIP’s rise has been mirrored by a rise in the proportion of people saying that they do not think the world is warming. There may or may not be a causal link between the two, but my hypothesis is that you would expect populism to drive climate denial, not just here but also in the US, in the form of the Tea Party movement.  Let’s assume that my hypothesis is correct. In the long term populism tends to self-destruct but, unfortunately, it can do a lot of damage before that happens. So what should those who are concerned with the effects on climate policy do about it?

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Sceptics, climate change and the media

newspapers detailThis is a guest post by James Painter of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism

It’s nearly Christmas, so it must be the end of another round of UN climate talks.  One of the less reported aspects of this annual meet-up is that the 190-odd delegations often come from quite different backgrounds when it comes to popular views about climate change in their home countries.

For example, surveys show significant differences between countries as to how much people believe that mankind’s greenhouse gas emissions are the main driver of climate change.

At first this might seem odd. After all, reports from the IPCC and others are pretty good at laying out where there are core certainties and residual uncertainties.  And these reports get widespread coverage in most countries of the world. Read more

How creating pop-up cafes and homework clubs can encourage people to save energy

OCP_TwitterThis post is by Green Alliance policy assistant Jonny Hazell, who worked on Waste Watch’s Our Common Place project, which has recently published a report on its first year.

Waste Watch’s Our Common Place programme emerged from the simple idea that just because an organisation is interested in an environmental issue – and is being funded to act on it – doesn’t mean other people will be interested. Read more

How to design sustainability into your cuppa

This post is by Chris Sherwin, head of sustainability at design and innovation consultancy SeymourpowellIt was first published on Guardian Sustainable Business.

If you’re reading this over morning coffee or afternoon tea, chances are you’ll have put the kettle on. Putting aside the sustainability impacts of coffee, tea, milk or sugar sourcing, which an eco-literate audience will likely know, or the social value, conviviality and cultural importance of these rituals, the humble kettle itself encapsulates many of the central sustainability challenges around behaviour change and consumer engagement.

In this article, I want to use the kettle to unpack an important area of sustainability and design: creating sustainable behaviour. Read more

Three things we can learn from video games

This is a guest post by Olly Lawder of sustainability communications agency Futerra.

Nothing is more engaging, distracting, entertaining or compulsive than video games. Don’t believe me? Then you either haven’t played them or you simply haven’t found the right one yet. And, if you’re one of those people who thinks that video games (and the people that play them) are stupid, then this post might change your mind, because video games could hold the answer to engaging millions in sustainability issues. Read more

Can wilderness workshops create a new generation of natural leaders?

This is a guest post by freelance writer and environmentalist Anya Hart Dyke

Louise Macdonald has always been very active in her community and in politics, but until recently the green agenda had passed her by. “It just didn’t stick”, she says. The chief executive of youth information charity Young Scot, Macdonald engaged with the idea of sustainability on an intellectual basis, and recycled her waste because that was what good citizens did, but overall she says she did very little.

Then in 2008 Macdonald took part in WWF Scotland’s Natural Change Project (NCP), which involved two week-long residential workshops in the wilderness. Read more

Hyper-local, visible action is key to encouraging green living

This is a guest post by Oliver Payne, an advertising professional who founded the behavioural communications agency The Hunting Dynasty, and wrote Inspiring Sustainable Behaviour: 19 Ways To Ask For Change

Talk to any communications specialist and they’ll tell you how important social norms are in driving behaviour. This is correct, but a little broad. Norms – or the implicit and explicit rules that govern a society – come in many varieties. Both the injunctive norm (what we’re told is approved of), and the descriptive norm (what we see others doing) can help persuade us to act more sustainably. Read more

How selling comfort and warmth can encourage more homeowners to insulate

This is a guest post by Toby Hopwood, communications specialist at the National Social Marketing Centre (NSMC).

How can you encourage households to insulate their lofts when the financial case alone leaves them cold?

We often assume that lower utility bills are what will motivate the less environmentally-concerned to save energy. But work carried out by The NSMC and Newcastle City Council shows that when time is taken to explore the attitudes and beliefs of specific household groups, other benefits can be revealed that are powerful motivators to action. By taking this approach, councils can find low-cost ways to reposition existing services, overcoming the main barriers to installing important measures such as loft insulation.

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Behaviour change theory: structural factors

This post looks at structural factors that affect our behaviour. It’s part of a series on behaviour change and sustainability, which includes an introduction to behavioural theory, a summary of some of the psychological traits that influence us, and a look at how social context can affect behaviour.

The structure of life
Our lives take place within certain structural and practical contexts. This can be defined narrowly as the ‘choice environment’, i.e. the immediate context in which we make decisions, or broadly as the whole material infrastructure within which our lives take place. Read more

Behaviour change theory: social factors

This post looks at social factors that affect our behaviour. It’s part of a series on behaviour change and sustainability, which includes an introduction to behavioural theory and a summary of some of the psychological traits that influence us.

Social creatures
As well as being influenced by our own psychological make-up, our behaviour is deeply influenced by social context. This is true both on a small scale, in terms of being affected by what others think and do, and on a large scale in terms of the norms and practices that dominate a society. Read more

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