“Why should I bother?” to “Yes, we can!”: Risk, willingness, and cooperation in action on climate change

May 31, 2021 |
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“Why should I bother?” to “Yes, we can!”: Risk, willingness, and cooperation in action on climate change

2 June 2021 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Ben Newell (UNSW). 

A complete policy response to climate change, habitat destruction, plastic pollution, and other Anthropocene challenges requires action by governments, industries, nongovernmental organizations, and individuals. Attempts to drive change at the individual level often confront reactions like “Why should I bother altering my behavior? And if I do change, will my actions make a difference?” In this talk I discuss the drivers and predictors of individuals’ perceptions of the risk of climate change and how they relate to the willingness to engage in mitigation behaviours. I also discuss why behavioural interventions should not only make it easier for people to act but also highlight moral reasons for acting and assure people that their actions make a difference. I will also present recent work examining how early-warning signals of approaching climate thresholds might be used to overcome the uncertainty that appears to be a major impediment to collective action.

Brief Biography: Ben Newell is a Professor of Cognitive Psychology and Deputy Head of the School of Psychology at the University of New South Wales.
His research focusses on the cognitive processes underlying judgment, choice and decision making, and the application of this knowledge to environmental, medical, financial and forensic contexts. He is the lead author of Straight Choices: The Psychology of Decision Making.
He is currently an Associate Editor of 
Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, on the Editorial Boards of Thinking & ReasoningDecisionJournal of Behavioral Decision Making and Experimental Psychology. Ben is also a Consulting Editor for Judgment & Decision Making.

Ben is a member of the inaugural Academic Advisory Panel of the Behavioural Economics Team of the Australian Government.


Climate Change Research Centre (CCRC)
4th Floor, Matthews Building, UNSW
Kensington, NSW 2052 Australia
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