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Fostering Sustainable Environmental Change: Insights from our evolved psychological biases
31 January, 2019
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
It is widely agreed by scientists and policymakers that humans must reduce their impact on the natural environment and adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. In this talk, Prof van Vugt will propose that an improved understanding of human psychology can help to improve programmes and policies to address environmental problems. Combining theories and findings from evolutionary biology and social psychology, he will argue that environmental problems are often caused or exacerbated by at least five evolutionarily adaptive psychological biases that may stand in the way of sustainable behavioural change: Humans tend to (1) value personal over collective outcomes (self-interest), (2) prefer immediate over delayed rewards (short-sightedness), (3) value relative over absolute status (status), (4) copy the behaviours of others (social imitation), and (5) ignore problems that we cannot see or feel (sensing). By considering how these five ancestral psychological biases continue to influence our environmental behaviours, relying on his own research and that of many others, he will present various novel ways in which human nature can be harnessed to develop intervention strategies to lessen resource depletion, restrain wasteful consumption and foster a sustainable lifestyle.
Prof Mark van Vugt is Professor of Evolutionary, Work and Organizational Psychology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and Research Associate at the University of Oxford, UK. He studies and teaches about group behaviour from an evolutionary psychology perspective.
MEET THE SPEAKER
Prof Mark van Vugt
Professor of Evolutionary, Work and Organizational Psychology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands and Research Associate, University of Oxford, UK
Prof Mark van Vugt is Professor of Evolutionary, Work and Organizational Psychology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and Research Associate at the University of Oxford, UK. He studies and teaches about group behaviour from an evolutionary psychology perspective. His main research themes include leadership, cooperation and environmental behaviour. He also has a keen interest in applied evolutionary science on topics such as management and sustainability. He has published around 200 articles in prestigious journals such as Nature, Current Biology, Proceedings of the Royal Society-B, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (JPSP), Psychological Science, and the American Psychologist, Academy of Management Review. He is a former Associate Editor of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and the current Associate Editor at the Leadership Quarterly. He has authored and co-authored various books including Naturally Selected: The Evolutionary Science of Leadership and, more recently, Mismatch. Mark van Vugt has received research grants from national and international bodies including government and industry. He is a regular contributor to international media (including Psychology Today) and gained prizes for his science communication.
Admission is free.
Disclaimer: The views expressed by the speaker in this talk are their own and do not represent the opinions of The HEAD Foundation.