Do you recycle while others are watching? Personality, identity, visibility, and 21 pro-environmental behaviours

  • Date:
  • Time: 16:00 - 17:00
  • Location: Room 2.20, School of Psychology
  • Speaker: Cameron Brick
  • Who can attend: Staff, students, alumni and external guests
  • Hosted by: CDR and School of Psychology


We have the technology and knowledge to mitigate environmental problems like climate change, but it remains unclear why many individuals reject mitigating behaviours and policies. I argue pro-environmental behaviour is based not just on beliefs about the environment or the difficulty of taking action but also on individual differences and how people think about others. Examining the person in social situations may help predict or influence these behaviours. I present a research line showing how personality and social identity relate to pro-environmental behaviour and policy preferences (total N = 3504). Study 1 shows that pro-environmental behaviours are associated with environmental concern, which may be driven by the personality trait Openness. Studies 2-5 find that social identification with environmentalists uniquely predicts behaviour and policy preferences, and reveals no unique contribution of implicit measures. In Studies 6-8, environmentalist identity interacts with the public visibility of behaviour to predict behaviour frequency in a multi-level model controlling for perceived difficulty and effectiveness. Studying reactions to environmental problems provides opportunities for both public impact and basic science on cognition, social influence, and action.

About the speaker

Dr Cameron BrickDr Cameron Brick researches how people respond to society-level problems from climate change to local city planning. Cameron builds quantitative laboratory, survey, and field studies on communication and behavior in social contexts with a focus on motivations, identity, comprehension, and policy decisions.

Cameron is a postdoc Research Associate at the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication in Maths, is jointly appointment in Psychology, and is a By-Fellow of Churchill College, all at the University of Cambridge. Cameron completed a PhD in Social Psychology at University of California, Santa Barbara, and taught as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Hamilton College, NY.

Brick, C., & Lewis, G. J. (2016). Unearthing the “green” personality: Core traits predict environmentally friendly behavior. Environment and Behavior48(5), 635-658.

Brick, C., & Lai, C. K. (2018). Explicit (but not implicit) environmentalist identity predicts pro-environmental action. Journal of Environmental Psychology58,
pdf — supplement

Brick, C., Sherman, D. K., & Kim, H. S. (2017). “Green to be seen” and “brown to keep down”: Visibility moderates the effect of identity on pro-environmental behavior. Journal of Environmental Psychology51,
pdf — supplement