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Social Change Articles

We have created a a large bibliography of articles on Social Change, examining how we can use principles of psychology and marketing to focus our neighbors on the issues of climate change.

4 Reports from EcoAmerica
American Climate Values 2014: Insights by Racial and Ethnic Groups
Beyond Storms & Droughts: The Psychological Impacts of Climate Change
American Climate Values 2014: Psychographic and Demographic Insights
Campaigns II: Recent Learnings from Other Social Movements

See also Psychologists for Social Responsibility webpage on climate activism:


Communicating the Risks of Climate Change, Renee Cho, April 22 2010
How to Sell Clean Energy, Marc Gunther, April 6 2009
How to Sell Green Energy, Sahil Kapur, May 9, 2010


Psychology of Climate Change Communication - 54 page PDF, put out by CRED (Center for Research on Environmental Decisions at Columbia Univ.), referenced inHiskes  article below.
Global Warming’s Six Americas, An Audience Segmentation Analysis By Anthony Leiserowitz, Edward Maibach, Andrew Light.  Yale Project on Climate Change w/ George Mason Center for Climate Change Communication

FULL REPORT AS A PDF (140 pages)

also attached below as a 41 page Powerpoint (PDF)

Advocacy for Social Change:The Psychological Science Behind Persuasion by Jutta Tobias


What are Americans Thinking and Doing about Climate Change?

George Mason University

How to Motivate People to Make Homes Energy-Efficient? by Katherine Salant, Wash Post, April 10

Pscyhologists Delve into the Paradox of US Concern but Inaction on Climate Change, Renee Cho, Aug 23, 2009

Selling Intangibles: How to Sell What the Customer Can't See, Sarah Terry-Cobo, Aug 24 2009


To Really Save the Planet, Stop Going Green by Mike Tidwell

Hope for a Climate Change Solution in the Wake of Copenhagen -- If Governments Can't, People Can by David Gershon (author of Low Carbon Diet book)

David Gershon, Part 5: "Taking a Cool Community to Scale"

(link to Jutta's 53 slide Powerpoint Presentation)

Never mind what people believe—how can we change what they do? A chat with Robert Cialdini

Cialdini describes six “weapons of influence”:

* Reciprocity: people will repay favors.

* Commitment and Consistency: people will stick to commitments made publicly.

* Social Proof: people will do what other people do.

* Authority: people obey authority figures.

* Liking: people are more influenced by those they like.

* Scarcity: people desire what is perceived as scarce.

With help from Sweden, 4 Northern Virginia families are 'Climate Pilots'

Household actions can provide a behavioral wedge to rapidly reduce US carbon emissions
Thomas Dietz, Gerald T. Gardner, Jonathan Gilligan, Paul C. Stern, and Michael P. Vandenbergh (Proceedings of National Academy of Science)  (also attached as a PDF)

A Room with a Viewpoint: Using Social Norms to Motivate Environmental Conservation in Hotels NOAH J. GOLDSTEIN, ROBERT B. CIALDINI, VLADAS GRISKEVICIUS (Summary of above in Psychology Today)

Why We Find It So Hard to Act Against Climate Change. Solving the “It’s Not My Problem” problem. A psychologist on what keeps us from coming to terms with the climate crisis. by George Marshall


He presents three major points:

1. What we do


        False Positivity

        Reactive Denial and projection

2. Why we do it

3. What to do about it.

Why Don't People Engage Climate Change? by Phil Camill, Bowdoin College
Problem 1: Environmental Literacy
Problem 2: Communication Literacy
Problem 3: Personal perception, values, and behavior
Problem 4: Political-economic context
Problem 5: A perfect storm of climate change denial

Climate psychology in cartoons: clues for solving the messaging mystery by Jonathan Hiskes

Icek Ajzen's Behavior Change Model

In sum, 3 things generally predict a person's intention to change their behavior:

1. attitude (beliefs about the behavior)

2. subjective norms (or social norms)

3. how much control the person thinks s/he has over the behavior (how 'powerful' the person feels about being able to carry out the new behavior)


Mortality Salience

Social cognitive theory goes global by Albert Bandura
“Failure to address the psychosocial determinants of human behaviour is often the
weakest link in social policy initiatives” (also attached as PDF)

LISTEN: NPR pod cast of For Smokers, Quitting May Be Contagious. Retrieved January 19, 2010 from

“Changing behaviors by degrees” by Michael Price:

Raising Eyebrows Gets Handwashing Results.  Retrieved January 19, 2010 from

How to Talk About Climate Change: A Laundry List of Resources by Francesco Femia

How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: Responses to the most common skeptical arguments on global warming A Grist Special Series
Below is a complete listing of the articles in "How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic," a series by Coby Beck containing responses to the most common skeptical arguments on global warming. There are four separate taxonomies; arguments are divided by:
* Stages of Denial,
* Scientific Topics,
* Types of Argument,
* Levels of Sophistication

Skeptic Arguments and What the Science Says
Top 10 Bogus Statements
Another top 10
Salon on the Cold Truth About Climate Change
Ridiculous Climate Sceptic website - titled plants need CO2

Monbiot's royal flush: Top 10 climate change deniers

Environmental Roadmap: A Guide To American Social Values and Environmental Engagement

(page 12, barriers to environmental engagement)

Global Warming and Renewable Energy Focus Group Report - recommendations on messaging, pages 3-4

Breakthrough: Why We Can't Leave Saving the Planet to the Environmentalists by Shellenberger and Nordhaus, 2008


The Death of Environmentalism: Global Warming Politics in a Post-Environmental World, by Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus, 2004

Cognitive Policy Works website, a whole bunch of articles

Comparing Climate Proposals: A Case Study in Cognitive Policy (also available as a PDF) by Joe Brewer
How Conservatives Have Duped Us in the Global Warming Fight
Who Framed Global Warming?
Why We Are Losing the Global Warming Battle
The Key Ideas Behind the Sky Trust
How Can We Make ‘Green’ an Identity?
Fads, Frames, and the Environment
Beyond Extreme: The Illusion of a New Climate Centrism
The ‘Feel Good’ Approach to Climate Distortion
Bush’s Trade Barriers to Climate Success
When Climate Message is Strong, Attack the Messenger!
Climate and the Psychology of Loss
Missing the Real Message in Nobel Prize?
High Tech is Down in the Dirt
The Frame, The Farm, The Harm
Bee Keeper’s Wisdom for Human Flourishing
Agro-Fuel Craze Squeezing Farmers
Emergent Ecological Order – When Players Change the Game
Energy Crisis Won’t “Wait for the Market”
Debating Energy as if Communities Mattered
The Coming Biofuels Disaster
Shifting the Climate of Security    The Connect Us Fund -  Minding the Gap: Where Will President Obama's Energy and Climate Policies Take Us in Four to Eight Years?
Climate Crossroads - a Research Based Framing Guide 

Climate Communications and Behavior Change.pdf

The Case for Action: Creating a Clean Energy Future    State of the World 2010: Transforming Cultures: From Consumerism to Sustainability   - (from Wolfger, not sure which chapter he was recommending?)

Report of the American Psychological Association Task Force on the Interface Between Psychology and Global Climate Change.  The APA Task Force on the Interface Between Psychology and Global Climate Change met in 2008-2009 to examine the role of psychology in understanding and addressing global climate change, including efforts to adapt to and mitigate climate change.

Full APA Report download at  - online at
Summary APA Report at

APA Climate Change Booklet -

Article "Living in denial: Why sensible people reject the truth"  -  and "Living in Denial" -

Followup to George Mason 6 America's study - The Climate Change in the American Mind Series, June 2010

Copenhagen, ClimateGate and the Gulf Oil Spill - Framing the Climate Conversation - Cara Pike, Director of the Social Capital Project - - and author of Climate Crossroads: A Research-Based Framing Guide at  , RE: Green: A Values-Based Segmentation Study, and mostly recently  "Climate Communications and Behavior Change: A Guide for Practitioners".  available  here:    See article at:  Powerpoint here: 

"Reframing climate change as a public health issue" - This is follow up research to the "6 Americas" study done earlier by the  Center for Climate Change Communication, Department of Communication, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA  and  and summary at:

PBS Article on Opposition to Wind and Public Dialogue -

Excellent 7 Ideas to Tackle Climate Change from -

Fixing the Communications Failure - Abstract: There is a culture war in America over science. Why? And what should be done to promote the ability of culturally diverse citizens to agree on how science can inform their common interests in health, security, and prosperity? This article uses the findings of Cultural Cognition Project studies to address these question.   More on the Cultural Cognition Project at Yale -

"The Values of Everything" by George Monbiot - 3 page article.  We all have a mix of extrinsic values cherishing wealth, image and fame or intrinsic values cherishing our relationships with friends, family and community.  These values are influenced by our culture. When politicians talk about financial security and middle class wealth they are supporting EXTRINSIC values which have nothing to do with the common good! An intriguing analysis about how we need to change how we talk about what we value in order to get more support for people-centric values.

Survey re: What American Know about Climate Change - Many people know they don't know basic facts - See new Yale Study 10-2010 - "only 8 percent of Americans have knowledge equivalent to an A or B"