Richardt Hansen

Project title: Predictors and Trainability of Pro-Environmental Behaviours Across Age-Groups

Pro-environmental behaviours – from individual choices and beliefs to collective behaviours like cooperation over resource dilemmas – are critical for mitigating climate change. As such, it is of paramount importance that we understand the factors driving the adoption of pro-environmental behaviours.

This project will develop a theoretical framework for some of the cognitive factors driving pro-environmental behaviours and identify potential interventions to improve them. I will explore cognitive tools which, when trained, could significantly impact our ability to sustain the planet’s resources.

Initial research suggests the ability to imagine one’s future can directly improve pro-environmental behaviours, but results are limited to immediate, hypothetical choices by young adults in the laboratory. Training this ability shows potential in improving healthy decision-making in young adults and completion of delayed intentions in older adults. However, we don’t yet know whether this ability can directly improve pro-environmental choices – particularly in older adults who often run companies and make policies. Moreover, psychological factors such as the importance of future rewards/losses, the cognitive separation between ourselves and future outcomes, and climate change beliefs can affect pro-environmental behaviours. Yet, there is no encompassing theoretical framework explaining the complex interactions between these factors and age on pro-environmental behaviours.

Awarded: Carnegie PhD Scholarship

Field: Psychology

University: University of Dundee

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