Crowd, foto: Walter Reich / pixelio

Behaviour-related environmental research

The aim of our research

Actors from different spheres of society have called for behavioural changes, e.g. with regard to agriculture, housing, food and mobility, in order to cope with global challenges such as climate change, loss of biodiversity or sustainable ressource use. Understanding the potential for such behavioural changes involves looking at interdependencies between social settings and psychological factors, the differences between behaviour at social (or group) and individual level, and taking into account complexity, uncertainty and conflicting interests.

Our research group links research on the natural environment and human behaviour in order to address the following questions: How do human beings perceive and evaluate environmental problems? What affects pro-environmental behaviour among individuals and members of social groups? How can we design interventions for environmental and sustainability-related issues that take differences in human experience and behaviour into account?

We look at individuals as recipients of and as actors in societal transformation processes, as consumers, citizens, etc. Furthermore, our research addresses questions linked to the design, the impact and the legitimacy of different political processes and tools targeted at changing environmentally significant behaviour.

Our research approaches and methods

We use insights from psychology, political science and behavioural economics to investigate the individual- and social-level factors of environmentally significant behaviour. We employ a broad spectrum of empirical methods, including quantitative methods (surveys, laboratory and field experiments) as well as qualitative approaches (interviews, focus groups)

Furthermore, we aim to scientifically accompany the social debate on the design of policies to stimulate pro-environmental behaviour. Thus, we cooperate with experts from different disciplines as well as with stakeholders from the civil society, the economy and politics. By cooperating closely with actors of local, regional and national sustainability initiatives, many findings of our research are directly implemented in the choice of real-life environmental schemes and decision-making. In this respect, our work is interconnected to the research of the topics Sustainability transitions, Governance of global environmental change and Interfaces between science and society within our department.


You will find an overview of the current and completed projects in this research field in our project list.