Psychology and Environmental Change

Psychology and Environmental Change

Psychology and Environmental Change

Psychology and Environmental Change


This book stimulates thinking on the topic of detrimental environmental change and how research psychologists can help to address the problem. In addition to reporting environmentally relevant psychological research, the author identifies the most pressing questions from an environmental point of view. Psychology and Environmental Change:

• focuses on ways in which human behavior contributes to the problem;

• deals with the assessment and change of attitudes and with studies of change of behavior;

• proposes ways in which psychological research can contribute to making technology and its products more environmentally benign; and

• introduces topics such as consumption, risk assessment, cost-benefit and tradeoff analyses, competition, negotiation, and policymaking, and how they relate to the objective of protecting the environment.


The writing of this book was motivated by the belief that psychology has much to contribute to solving the problem of detrimental environmental change but that what the field has to offer has been realized only to a small degree to date. Some of the opportunities for psychological research that is relevant to the problem have been pursued, but much more could be done if the problem were higher on the priority list for the psychological research community as a whole. My hope was to stimulate greater interest among research psychologists in the area. Although my research has not focused on environmental psychology, I ventured into the area because I believe that the question of adverse environmental change is an exceptionally important one for anyone who is concerned about the kind of future we are helping to shape.

Undoubtedly everyone who has become concerned about the problem of environmental change has a different story to tell, but I suspect that for many people there has simply been a slowly growing awareness of various aspects of the problem and a deepening conviction that it is real and serious. At least that is the case for me. I began to think more than casually about it and about what psychology might have to contribute toward improving the situation sometime in the late 1980s. Between then and now, I have written or spoken a bit on the subject in a few book chapters and talks at meetings.

This book differs from the earlier attempts to address the topic in scope. It discusses various ways in which the quality of the natural environment is threatened or demonstrably in decline, considers how human behavior contributes to the problem, reviews psychological research that has been done on the subject, and notes opportunities for future work. I make no claim of exhaustiveness in the coverage of the literature, but I believe the reader should . . .

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