The Interdisciplinary Seminar on Conflict and Violence is designed to promote interdisciplinary exchanges among faculty and students interested in the topics of conflict, violence, and peace, from a wide range of departments across campus.

Dr. Susan Clayton
Dr. Susan Clayton

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

April 7, 2017
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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Dr. John Drury
Dr. John Drury

(Dis)empowering prejudice through collective action: An elaborated social identity model

April 12, 2017

Room 423 Tobin Hall
Open to everyone  Refreshments served

Dr. John Drury is Reader in Social Psychology at the University of Sussex. He has been conducting research on crowds, social movements and collective action for 25 years. With Steve Reicher and Clifford Stott, he developed the elaborated social identity model, which challenged irrationalist explanations of crowd conflict. He extended the same social identity principles to explain collective behaviour in emergencies and disasters. Some of the crowd phenomena he and his colleagues have investigated include the 1990 poll tax riot, the Hajj to Mecca, the Hillsborough disaster, the July 7th London bombings, and the UK anti-roads movement.

His research findings have informed guidance on emergency response (e.g., the UK Department of Health, the Harvard School of Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response) and training in crowd safety (e.g. eResponse Crowd Safety). He is currently the editor of the British Journal of Social Psychology. His group’s research website is here.

ABSTRACT: The elaborated social identity model (ESIM) was developed to explain the dynamics of conflict within crowd events. Research showed that forms of identity change occurring within crowd events could also endure afterwards, including in terms of empowerment. Based on the ESIM and in line with self-categorization theory, in this presentation I will suggest that the process of collective empowerment can operate ‘vicariously’. I illustrate how this may have operated in the case of the post-Brexit upsurge in xenophobic attacks in the UK. Using the same ESIM principles and concepts, I will then explain how prejudice can be disempowered – or, put differently, how collective actions against xenophobic attacks can operate successfully.

The forms of collective action that have this effect are ones which deny and undermine the realization of prejudiced identity-projects, which therefore render them disorganized, lacking practical adequacy, and unsupported. These kinds of collective actions empower protest participants as they disempower the prejudiced. While successes are easier against non-state actors, I suggest that such actions can and need to take place in relation to state forces also.

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Dr. Fiona Barlow

May 1, 2017

Coming in May, date and location TBA

Dr. Fiona Barlow is a social psychologist, having completed her PhD approximately 6.5 years ago. Her work focuses on looking at factors that sever intergroup relations, the emotions that explain such severance, and the factors that bring groups back together. On an applied level she looks at relations between Gay and Straight, Aboriginal and Asian and White, and normal weight and over-weight people (to name but a few).

More recently she has expanded her research scope to begin looking at the heritability of social attitudes, with a large scale twin study with the Australian Twin Registry. Data collection for this work has commenced, with completion scheduled for mid 2016. In 2012 she was awarded both a University of Queensland Postdoctoral Fellow and a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award, each worth over $300,000 over three years. At the end of 2015 she was awarded an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship (Level 2), valued at over $800,000. This was one of 50 Future Fellowships awarded to scientists nationwide, and one of only two in psychology.