Psychologists call for behaviour change to reduce climate change

Australia's largest professional association for psychologists is calling for national, community and school-based initiatives focussed on evidence-based behaviour change as key to reducing climate change.

Australian Psychological Society (APS) Executive Director, Professor Lyn Littlefield, said that current practice tends to view the climate change issue as a scientific and infrastructure issue when the basis of community change is a psychosocial one, based on attitude and behaviour change.

"Preventing even more severe changes in climate will require significant alterations in human behaviours, including the collective behaviours of governments and corporations, locally and globally, as well as the behaviour of individuals and local communities.

"Individuals and local communities can often feel isolated and powerless in dealing with global issues such as climate change, but discrete actions will not only empower individuals, they can also lead to more resilient and responsive communities," Prof Littlefield said.

A document outlining the key issues in relation to election has been produced by the APS, with recommendations on using psychology to help address climate change. Key Issues for the 2010 Federal Election calls on all political parties to help address climate change by committing to:

  • national community-based action to deliver behavior change initiatives at the community level
  • development and implementation of school based curriculum promoting sustainable values, attitudes and behaviour in school aged children, and developing a series of guidelines for educators.

These initiatives are built around providing professional guidance to help Australians and their local communities to identify and implement practical steps toward reducing their carbon "footprints". Psychologists are well placed to inform and support this work. They can work as integral members of consultative teams working with communities and provide advice and input on materials to be developed and distributed back to communities.


The APS is the largest professional association for psychologists in Australia, representing more than 19,000 members. The APS is committed to advancing psychology as a discipline and profession. It spreads the message that psychologists make a difference to peoples' lives, through improving psychological knowledge and community wellbeing.

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