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Behaviour Change from the Inside Out

An unplanted tree set against a white background

Applications of psychological ideas to sustainability

A collection of 12 short essays on using psychosocial perspectives in sustainability, launched autumn 2017

Editors: Rosie Robison, Chris Foulds, Renee Lertzman

Download the collection for free below:

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Interest in human responses to climate change and sustainability challenges is at an all-time high. Experience has shown that such responses are complex, are sometimes labelled inconsistent or ‘irrational’, and are certainly difficult to steer in particular directions. Psychosocial research – building on decades of learnings from social work, psychotherapy, counselling and community work – seeks to understand at a deep level what informs and guides specific practices and behaviours. It does this by acknowledging that we do always fully ‘know’ (in a rational or cognitive sense) why we think or do something. There is also a recognition that such feelings can belong to the surrounding culture or society (the ‘mood of the times’), and have their own existence which may be carried by individuals, but not driven by them.

This collection of short essays was stimulated by a workshop on these themes hosted by Dr Rosie Robison with Visiting Fellow Dr Renee Lertzman at the Global Sustainability Institute, Anglia Ruskin University (Cambridge, UK) in October 2015. The event aimed to bring together researchers and practitioners (from the psychosocial ‘expert’ to the novice) to discuss the principles of psychosocial research, and their relevance to understanding and working towards sustainability. These ideas are not mainstream, and there is appetite across a wide range of groups to know more. A number of guest speakers helped deepen our discussion: Matt Adams, Paul Hoggett, Wendy Hollway, Rosemary Randall, and Chris Rapley. We also ran a linked event as part of the Cambridge Festival of Ideas entitled: Clim ‘Art’ Therapy: where do climate change, the arts and psychotherapy meet?; a number of artworks in the collection were contributed by speakers at that event.

Contents and authors

Preface by the editors
Foreword by Paul Hoggett
Introduction by Renee Lertzman
Theme 1. Accessing beneath the surface
1. Creative engagements with climate change: applying psychosocial interpretations to existing survey data by Jo Hamilton
2. How we cope: an application of psychosocial methods by Alison Armstrong
3. Climate change, art and research methodology by Wendy Hollway
4. On “sustaining an attitude of uncertainty” in research: an experiment in self-interviewing by Rosie Robison
Theme 2. Relationships and groups
5. How personalities and participant interactions shape co-creative transdisciplinary processes by Thomas Bruhn
6. Psychosocial, trans-species and a radical sustainability agenda by Matthew Adams
7. Climate change and change agency by Laurie Michaelis
Theme 3. Change in cultural contexts
8. Exploring the role for psychosocial perspectives in Cornwall’s environmental future by Rachael Bice
9. Understanding the Latvian and Estonian context using psychosocial perspectives by Joanna Storie
Theme 4. Everyday experiences
10. Deliberating everyday futures: a methodological reflection by Catherine Cherry
11. Unconscious defences or desiring production? Some reflections on everyday energy use, psychoanalysis, vitalism by Alice Dal Gobbo
12. Practice-ing SQUINs: experimenting with Single Questions aimed at Inducing Narratives by Chris Foulds

Contact us

For further information about the Behaviour Change from the Inside Out project, contact Rosie Robison. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the collection. You may also be interested in a previous GSI edited collection entitled Sustainability: new questions, new answers.