Psychology could hold the key to tackling climate change

Apr 02, 2014
Psychology could hold the key to tackling climate change

It is widely understood by scientists that in order to tackle climate change a revolution in individual behaviour needs to happen.

Given that policy has to date achieved only a limited success, the UK government and a network of scientists have suggested that a phenomenon known as the 'spillover effect' might be a cost-effective way of slowing down .

Funded by a €1.5M grant from the European Research Council, Dr Lorraine Whitmarsh from the University's School of Psychology will for the next five years lead an international team tasked with providing evidence to support this theory.

"We want to test whether taking up a new green behaviour - such as recycling - can spill over to other green behaviours, such as taking your own bags shopping, and if so, under what circumstances," she said.

"Most people are willing to make only very small changes to their lifestyle, so we need to find ways of encouraging green behaviour which can match the scale of the .

"The has already shown to be effective in spheres such as seat-belt use and other safety behaviours, and we hope that it will show similar levels of success in encouraging environmentally-friendly behaviour.

"If so, it could also help to address other societal problems such as obesity and crime that rely on changing behaviour," she added.

The project will build on ongoing research conducted by the School of Psychology on and green lifestyles, and will determine whether - and when - spillover can be achieved in this context.

"We are interested in testing whether different types of interventions to create behavioural spillover will be needed in different cultures, as well as whether spillover effects are more likely to happen between similar categories of behaviour such as turning off unused lights and turning down the thermostat," said Dr Whitmarsh.

"This is the first cross-cultural study of green lifestyles and spillover. If we find spillover is easy to achieve, this is likely to be a really cost-effective method for helping address climate change", she concluded.

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User comments : 12

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ScooterG
1.3 / 5 (12) Apr 02, 2014
Another clever marketing scheme - devised by Big AGW, funded by the taxpayer.
Maggnus
4.6 / 5 (9) Apr 02, 2014
"Big AGW"?? Please, what is that exactly?

Are they clever enough to get you to invest in a plan to reintroduce the spotted owl to their traditional range?
ryggesogn2
1.7 / 5 (12) Apr 02, 2014
"in order to tackle climate change a revolution in individual behaviour needs to happen. "
Confirmation that AGWites MUST have control and AGWism is a subset of socialism.
ryggesogn2
1.7 / 5 (12) Apr 02, 2014
What will be the result of mixing one pseudoscience, psychology, with another, AGW?
Eddy Courant
1.6 / 5 (7) Apr 02, 2014
When will Big AGW lead by example? And stop the lavish lifestyles? No mo jettin' aroun'!
Feldagast
1.6 / 5 (7) Apr 03, 2014
So if you wont believe on your own they will come out and brainwash you into believing?
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (6) Apr 03, 2014
"Most people are willing to make only very small changes to their lifestyle, so we need to find ways of encouraging green behaviour

What always works if you go through someone's wallet. Make green behavior profitable (by simply adding all ancillary costs of non-green practices/products that are now shunted to the environment/the society at large to the cost of the service/product) and you'll get green behavior in no time.
freeiam
3.3 / 5 (3) Apr 03, 2014

What always works if you go through someone's wallet. Make green behavior profitable (by simply adding all ancillary costs of non-green practices/products that are now shunted to the environment/the society at large to the cost of the service/product) and you'll get green behavior in no time.


It doesn't, look at sigaret and fuel tax which is extremely excessive in Europe and doesn't make a difference at all.
What does work is making people feel better about themselves and stimulate a positive self image. You can achieve that by positive reinforcement, i.e., by praising someone.
Being green works that way because you encounter positives all the way.
Making products artificially expensive is exactly the opposite and makes people extremely angry and negative.
(By the way, recycling works extremely well where I live, we separate glass, batteries, compost (garden waste) and even plastics nowadays. We also bring our own bags when shopping.)
Sigh
4.2 / 5 (5) Apr 03, 2014
"in order to tackle climate change a revolution in individual behaviour needs to happen. "
Confirmation that AGWites MUST have control and AGWism is a subset of socialism.

It would be equally true to say that in order to achieve a libertarian society a revolution in individual behaviour needs to happen. And there we have it. Proof that libertarians must have control and that libertarianism is a subset of socialism! I never knew it would be so easy. And it works for so many other things. Eradicating drug addiction, obesity, drink driving, rape culture; changing any of that needs a revolution in individual behaviour and is therefore a subset of socialism.

I am eternally grateful to you for having simplified my view of the world so much. Life is so much better now that I have decision rule that makes it so easy to determine what is evil. It saves me all that tedious thinking.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (3) Apr 03, 2014
simply adding all ancillary costs of non-green practices/products that are now shunted to the environment/the society at large to the cost of the service/product)

How?

Creating a 'green' tax that the govt plunders to put into its general fund to increase govt salaries or ....won't 'fix' any damage.
Cigarette and alcohol taxes were supposed to fund 'programs' to help people addicted or suffering from the health affects. These taxes went into the general fund and were used however the politicians wanted.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (4) Apr 03, 2014
which is extremely excessive in Europe and doesn't make a difference at all.

Then you might have a look at what types of cars people in Europe are buying. I remember well that gas guzzlers were the norm. Nowadays people in Europe look first and foremost at the l/100km values.

You may want to look at reports like these
http://www.eea.eu...ent-cars
Quote: "The average car sold in the EU in 2012 was 9 % more fuel-efficient than the average three years before"

Car manufacturers are also given a target to meet based on the mass of the cars the build. So if they don't comply then the they will have to pay extra.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (2) Apr 03, 2014
Besides the high fuel taxes, there are high taxes on the cars themselves for the regular citizen.
At least there was in Finland in 1983.
Taxis were MB and Volvos as taxes on taxis were low, but high for personal use. Then people would buy the Soviet Fiats.
Has that changed?
Now the govt has to subsidize electric cars to get people to drive them and it is still a bad deal.
Now here is a vehicle that bears a look:

http://spring.eli...odiBQA-A