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Psychological barriers in sustainable communities

Colleagues in the School of Psychology are interested in the psychological issues involved in creating a 'greener', more sustainable environment.

We are concerned with the 'barriers' to action that stop people changing behaviour and being more environmentally friendly. Our approach is based on the view that people behave in the way that they do because it makes more sense for them to behave this way rather than in some other way - often the way that others believe they should be behaving. If we can understand why it makes sense for people to behave in the way that they are, we have a much better chance of developing strategies to get them to change. This has to be approached on a 360 degree basis - often the people who need to change most are those who are criticising others for not changing their behaviour.

Nick Reed is Director of the Centre for Personal Construct Psychology. He has extensive experience of teaching personal construct psychology and applying it in organisational and other settings.

Nadine Page’s research explores the determinants of pro-environmental behaviours in different contexts, and how factors internal and external to the individual differentially drive sustainable action in work and home environments. It uses the approach of FIT Science (Framework for Internal Transformation) (Fletcher & Stead, 2000) to model individuals' thinking and behaviour characteristics and explore how (un)sustainable actions are related to these. A central tenet in the research is examining how pro-environmental activity is restricted by behavioural repertoires and habits. It considers the behavioural chains that precede environmentally unfriendly actions and presents these as an equally important area for behaviour change as the unsustainable actions themselves. A new online habit-breaking program (FIT {Green}) has been developed, for getting individuals to initiate and sustain environmental action based on the principles of FIT Science. The goal of FIT {Green} is to assist individuals in initiating and sustaining pro-environmental actions in the long-term, be it at work or home.