Psychology and Global Climate Change: From Denial and Depression to Adaptation and Resilience


Friday, April 7, 2017 - 13:00


Dr. Susan Clayton
Dr. Susan Clayton


Co-sponsored by The Dept. of Environmental Conservation and The Institute for Teaching Excellence & Faculty Development, UMass Amherst
Room 423 Tobin Hall
Open to everyone    Refreshments served

Dr. Susan Clayton is Whimore -Williams Professor of Psychology at the College of Wooster in Ohio. She is author or editor of five books, including Conservation Psychology: Understanding and Promoting Human Care for Nature (with Gene Myers; 2nd edition 2015). Her Ph.D., from Yale University, is in social psychology. Her research focuses on the human relationship with the natural world, how it is socially constructed, and how it can be utilized to promote environmental concern; she has studied these questions in a number of zoos in the United States and abroad. 

Clayton is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Environmental Psychology and Social Justice Research, and is a fellow of the American Psychological Association, the Society for Environmental, Population, and Conservation Psychology, the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues – of which she is also past president.

ABSTRACT: Climate Change is one of the defining issues of our time. Psychological research can shed light on public perceptions, impacts, and behavior. Public response to climate change can be clearly characterized as inadequate; I will describe some of the reasons for this insufficient response, including emotional reactions such as denial. Social factors, such as group based-identities, are particularly important as both inhibitors and possible encouragers of climate change response. The effects of climate change on human wellbeing are often unrecognized: depression and anxiety, as well as social instability, can result from both short- and long-term effects of climate change. Finally, decades of psychological research have examined behavioral changes that could mitigate climate change by reducing our environmental impact, but we also need to discuss adaptation to the changes that have already begun. Psychology has much to say that will help us to understand sources of individual and community resilience.

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