Expanding the role for psychology in addressing environmental challenges

Susan Clayton, Patrick Devine-Wright, Janet Swim, Mirilia Bonnes, Linda Steg, Lorraine Whitmarsh, Amanda Carrico

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

41 Scopus citations

Abstract

Environmental challenges, though daunting, present an important area for psychologists to apply their knowledge. Psychological theories, research methods, and interventions are essential for examining the questions about human impacts, tendencies, and capacities that are integral to constructing effective responses to these challenges. Although a great deal of relevant research has been done, there is scope for psychologists to be more extensively involved. Following a brief review of existing research, we outline some important new directions. We also highlight 2 key divergences, arguing that psychological research needs to expand beyond a traditional, theory-based and decontextualized approach to environmental issues to incorporate a contextualized or "place-based" approach and a willingness to collaborate in interdisciplinary research teams that focus on specific environmental problems. Suggestions for promoting such interdisciplinary collaborations are reviewed. We encourage psychologists to expand their engagement with important environmental issues through multiple research approaches in order to further their understanding of human behavior, contributions to human well-being, and relevance to other disciplines and to society.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-215
Number of pages17
JournalAmerican Psychologist
Volume71
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychology(all)

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    Clayton, S., Devine-Wright, P., Swim, J., Bonnes, M., Steg, L., Whitmarsh, L., & Carrico, A. (2016). Expanding the role for psychology in addressing environmental challenges. American Psychologist, 71(3), 199-215. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0039482