Research

At the broadest level, I’m interested in answering the following core research questions:

1) What are the cognitive, affective and social mechanisms that either promote or inhibit individuals’ positive engagement with the major environmental issues we face, from climate change to habitat destruction?

2) How do psychological processes (e.g., cognitive heuristics, confirmation bias, moral judgment) interact with features of the decision-making context to shape environmentally relevant behavior?

3) Given that solving most of the environmental challenges we face will require massive amounts of cooperation between individuals, communities, organizations and nations, how can the behavioral sciences contribute to a better understanding of the underlying factors that shape such cooperation and coordination across these disparate levels of analysis? And can a better understanding of those factors be used to actually improve conservation outcomes through policy and practice?

4) What is the role of public participation and civic engagement in driving positive environmental change in the U.S. and beyond? What factors are most critical in influencing individuals’ likelihood of becoming engaged, active environmental citizens?

I take an interdisciplinary approach grounded in the behavioral and decision sciences to answer these and related questions. My research combines experimental, survey and in-depth interview methods. I am particularly interested in uncovering interactions between factors operating at different levels of analysis (e.g., how individual-level psychological factors combine with cultural and contextual forces), as my experience has been that these interactions often reveal the greatest insights into the core drivers of human decision-making.

What am I working on currently? Click on the links below to read a little bit about some of the on-going projects in our lab group.

Decision architecture, environmental conservation and effective behavior change

Interpersonal communication as under-appreciated pathway to positive behavior change

Intergenerational decision-making and the environment

Public engagement with science (and scientist engagement with the public)