Conservation Psychology

ISSRM8th Paper Sessions
ISSRM8th Forum Sessions
Conservation Psychology Listserv
Relevant Links
Special Human Ecology Review issue on Conservation Psychology
Call for submissions for Conservation Psychology / Conservation Biology joint theme at Society for Human Ecology conference, Oct. 2005, Salt Lake City

A growing number of psychologists are mindful of the increasing urgency revealed by trends in many biophysical and social indicators.  For example, Ecological Footprint analysis, by using humanly-appropriated ecologically productive land and water area as a common metric, shows that we may already be exceeding the sustainable carrying capacity of the earth by 30%. To live within just our current "earth share" footprint (available productive resources/present population), United States citizens would have to decrease their footprint by a factor of almost 10.  Surely, given the roots of this situation in human behavior and the human values at stake, the discipline that claims human behavior as its object of study, should have much to offer.

Indeed, those with the closest contact with the biological data, Conservation Biologists, have put out the call for help from the social sciences.  Psychology has already contributed in important ways, and these should be further disseminated. But the potential exists for a quantum leap in our understanding of behaviors that affect the conservation of natural systems, both directly and indirectly.  The challenges include: population and consumption growth patterns; pollution production and resource use behaviors by entities at every organizational level; beliefs and attitudes across societal groups; support for infra-structural and policy choices; design of facilities and programs; psychological foundations of environmental policy, education and communication; and more.

The term "Conservation Psychology" indicates the aspiration of some psychologists to use their training, tools and perspectives to contribute to 'greening' psychology, and to making society more ecologically sustainable.  It is not a discipline or sub-discipline, nor a proposal for a discipline, much less a competing discipline, so much as a term that designates a focal point for collaboration, research and outreach.  Psychologists of every sort--environmental, social, personality, developmental, cognitive, organizational, biopsychological, etc.--bring needed contributions.  The conservation psychology impulse may be practical, theoretical, or methodological--all the dispositions and talents of psychologists are needed.  Conservation psychology strives for high standards of research and application, as defined appropriately for the problems tackled.  Hopefully the resources on this page will contribute to greater networking among interested psychologists.

ISSRM8th Paper Sessions
At the 8th International Symposium on Society and Resource Management (ISSRM8th) held in June 2000, at Western Washington University, Gene Myers and Carol Saunders organized a series of sessions under the general theme of "Conservation Psychology."  Over 35 papers addressed a variety of topics related to understanding how people care about and care for the natural world, and how to encourage attitudes and behavior beneficial for the environment.  Participants also discussed how to build a broader professional identity for psychological research about conservation issues.

ISSRM8th Forum Sessions

Conservation Psychology Listserv
As one step toward building connections between interested parties, we have started an e-mail list on "conservation psychology."  In addition to psychologists, we welcome sociologists, anthropologists, economists and anyone else doing research on the interdisciplinary topic of "Conservation Psychology."  We hope that this open, unmoderated, list will be a forum for researchers, practitioners, and graduate students to:  share research ideas and questions about the connections between psychology and conservation issues; make announcements about conferences, special journal issues and new publications, and facilitate collaborative research and application efforts.

Relevant Links (This list is not exhaustive - many individuals' pages can be found through links below. Some commentary on these sources can be found at the link above for the ISSRM 8th Forum sessions):

Environmental Psychology


Kindred social science & psychology organizations

Human Dimensions

Related areas of research and application
Communication and education

Social Marketing & Related efforts

Special Conferences of interest


Gene Myers, WWU, 01/20/02