Most environmental problems can be characterized as people problems—errors in human decision-making and behavior. As a behavioral scientist with expertise in conservation psychology, communications and decision-making, I am interested in examining how social, psychological and contextual factors interact to influence individual and collective environmental decision-making. I use a variety of methodological techniques and theoretical approaches to answer research questions examining how, for instance, social-psychological mechanisms and processes interact with peoples’ decision-making environments to shape behavior across issues of conservation and sustainability.
My approach to research, teaching and practice is to shed light on how the behavioral sciences can be leveraged to enhance positive societal and ecological outcomes. In part, I spend a lot of time thinking and teaching about why people do the things that they do, particularly in the context of how individuals understand and respond to the pressing environmental challenges facing society. Why do individuals deny climate change? How do we communicate effectively with audiences with disparate, even antagonistic, environmental values and motives? How does social identity and social norms impact issue engagement? How does nature promote psychological well-being? How do individuals make environmentally-relevant decisions in the face of conflicting priorities? These and related questions form the basis of my teaching, scholarship and practice.