Changing human behaviour to avert the climate crisis


Dr. Jiaying Zhao (she/her/hers) is an associate professor in the UBC Department of Psychology and the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, and holds the Canada Research Chair in Behavioural Sustainability. In a recent article, she talks about her research, and how she makes use of psychological principles to explain why, despite evidence, "some people continue to refute the existence of climate change and the need to act on it ... and how we can respond."

Article highights include how:

Beliefs can be polarizing: With equipment that includes eye-trackers and virtual reality headsets, she explores participants’ reactions when shown evidence of climate change. 

Taking action leads to happiness: With social psychologist Elizabeth Dunn (a UBC happiness researcher) she developed a workshop aimed at shifting personal behaviours as a means to inspire broader societal change.

There are six types of people: Organizing individuals into groups — from change makers to those who question the reality of climate change itself — highlights the importance of understanding these groups and tailoring interventions to their priorities and understanding.


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