The research that I lead investigates how we make eco-friendly decisions. At first glance, it would seem that most people don’t care about the nature and wellness it brings but is it really so? Could it really be that people voluntarily choose to support the destruction of nature without thinking about what world they will leave for future generations? Could most people truly be so selfish and short-sighted and prioritise momentary comfort and convenience over the preservation of the natural environment?
The answers to these questions are by no means straightforward. Many psychology and behavioural science studies on what humans do in social situations have demonstrated that our decision-making is very complex. This is because the brain is driven by both automatic and rational motives. These motives originate from either conscious or non-conscious thoughts, and this is why it’s so difficult to predict what motives will show up next. For this reason, simply telling another person what to do does not work in the long term because it does not change how conscious and non-conscious thoughts interplay in the first place. This same decision-making pattern applies to eco-friendly behaviours, making it impossible to improve the situation by playing the ‘blame-game’ and judging what others do and don’t do.
So, how can we know what thoughts would make eco-friendly behaviours last in the long term? And more importantly, are we even able to find non-conscious thoughts, given they are unknown and invisible?
One way to approach these questions is to identify the major theory, which gives rise to non-conscious thoughts related to the climate change situation. Once found, this theory could then be used to deconstruct the key psychological factors which may make up the non-conscious mind. The reasons why these specific psychological factors are being pushed back to the non-conscious mind could then be investigated from both theoretical and practical perspectives. That is by looking at history, geography, philosophy, sociology, biology, politics, culture, etc., and drawing psychological insights from there.
To me, this major theory that gives rise to the non-conscious thoughts related to eco-friendly behaviours is that of human morality. This is because morality shapes the views of what is a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ thing to do in specific situations. So, if we know what the moral thing to do is, then we would do it just because we would see it as ‘a right thing’. However, in relation to climate change, everyone knows what is a ‘right thing’, but many do not follow it up with their actions. It’s interesting to notice that such a behaviour pattern gives a clue that there’s something going on in the moral dimension, clearly on the non-conscious level, and whatever that is – it is messed up. For this reason, my work is inspired by the discipline of human moral judgement and its translation into eco-friendly behaviours.
To obtain profound insights, my studies draw their background from the interdisciplinary fields of Environmental Sociology, Moral Philosophy, Moral Psychology and Moral Neuroscience. My studies are based on the three types of methodologies, which are qualitative, quantitative, and neuro. These different types of methodologies allow obtaining scientific data within the different scopes of human consciousness and give access to the information on the personal, societal, and brain level. Currently, my research is focused on developing the theory of why no one really knows what eco-morality is and how this shortcoming leads to the inconsistency between what people think about the existing climate change situation and what they actually do. The published academic studies below reflect our findings on this topic.
When does eco-friendly thinking lead to actually doing the same thing?
Does knowing how to be eco-friendly actually make you eco-friendly?
Is the level of morality equal between eco-unfriendly behaviours vs. other types of social behaviours, such as lying, cheating, stealing?
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