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Psychological research and global climate change

Nature Climate Change volume 5, pages 640646 (2015) | Download Citation

Abstract

Human behaviour is integral not only to causing global climate change but also to responding and adapting to it. Here, we argue that psychological research should inform efforts to address climate change, to avoid misunderstandings about human behaviour and motivations that can lead to ineffective or misguided policies. We review three key research areas: describing human perceptions of climate change; understanding and changing individual and household behaviour that drives climate change; and examining the human impacts of climate change and adaptation responses. Although much has been learned in these areas, we suggest important directions for further research.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank J. Taylor of the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa and C. Werner of the University of Utah for their contributions to the workshop from which this paper developed. We also acknowledge the support of the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (NSF award DBI-1052875).

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Psychology Department, College of Wooster, 930 College Mall, Wooster, Ohio 44691, USA

    • Susan Clayton
  2. Geography, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Rennes Drive, Exeter EX4 4RJ, UK

    • Patrick Devine-Wright
  3. National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences, 500 Fifth Street NW, K-1127, Washington DC 20001, USA

    • Paul C. Stern
  4. School of Psychology, Cardiff University, 70 Park Place, Cardiff CF10 3AT, UK

    • Lorraine Whitmarsh
  5. Environmental Studies Program, University of Colorado, 1201 17th Street, 397 UCB, Boulder, Colorado 80309, USA

    • Amanda Carrico
  6. Department of Social Psychology,University of Groningen, Grote Kruisstraat 2/1, 9712 TS Groningen, the Netherlands

    • Linda Steg
  7. Department of Psychology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802-3106, USA

    • Janet Swim
  8. Social and Developmental Psychology, Sapienza University of Rome, Piazzale Aldo Moro 5, 00185 Rome, Italy

    • Mirilia Bonnes

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Contributions

All authors contributed to the writing of this paper.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Susan Clayton.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2622

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