Climate Psychology

Public Communication of the Climate Crisis
For many, many years, scientific lectures have been given on the topic of the climate crisis. Political speeches are made and posters are put up. For a long time these lectures and speeches were held in small, scientific circles, which were then politically carried out. We are now seeing lectures on the topic in our more everyday life. At specialist conferences, at university, at school, at work, and sometimes with friends. Continue reading...

Climate Anxiety
The inflationary use of the term “climate anxiety” in the public debate on the man-made climate crisis has become a phenomenon in its own right. This phenomenon now risks masking the significance of the climate crisis itself. If the current anxiety concerning climate change is being pathologized, the focus shifts to efforts on how to overcome this anxiety. As a result, the climate crisis would be seen as an individual problem of adaptation while in reality, the issue is a global threat that can only be dealt with on a societal/political level. An attempt to pathologize the issue can be seen as a strategy to defame social activism for climate protection and prevent necessary political decisions. Continue reading...

Emotional Resilience (external link)

News around the climate crisis may cause fear, helplessness or anger. These are appropriate, healthy emotions, but how to deal with them without drowning in them or repressing them?

This is a recording of a webinar for climate scientists, which is appropriate for everyone interested in understanding and dealing with the emotional dimension of the crisis. 

Panel discussion for the European Public Health Week with panelists Monika Krimmer, Frida Hylander, Matteo Innocenti, Eoin Galavan and moderator Friederike Schwarzkopf

Social Psychology
Several phenomena connected to the climate crisis can be explained using social psychology: how can problem awareness and a sense of responsibility be developed? How can the gap between intention and behavior be closed? What are the social factors that influence our behavior? Continue reading...

Existential Psychotherapy Perspective
A broad consensus of reliable research warns against the scenario of a soon unavoidable spiral of man-made climate change. Nevertheless, both large parts of population and decision makers do not seem to be interested in the threat of destruction of the world as we know it. The gloomy prophecies of climate scientists are downplayed or even denied, necessary climate policy steps are not taken. The article looks at these phenomena from the perspective of existential psychotherapy and tries to point out possible causes and mechanisms of its repression as well as deduce concrete psychotherapeutic “interventions”. There is also a plea for an active participation of psychotherapists in health campaigns against this widespread “existential neurosis”. Continue reading...

Cognitive-Behavioral Perspective
If there is only so much as the possibility that the predictions about climate change are at least partly true, meaning that us humans are destroying our living environment, that should be reason enough to preventively change our behavior. Nevertheless, many people are apparently still not doing so at all or not sufficiently, which begs the question: why are intelligent people behaving so unreasonably? Continue reading...

Moral Decision Making
Environmentally friendly behavior depends on personal norms, social motives (whether or not the behavior is tolerated by the social environment), and other motives such as cost-benefit assessment (see Expectancy-Value Theory). Active behavior (activation) occurs when the acting person perceives that a problem exists that can be related to his or her own behavior, and that he or she can contribute to a problem solution (i.e. has the appropriate skills and abilities). Continue reading...

Terror Management Theory
Terror-Management-Theory (TMT) concerns the question what happens with us when we are reminded of our own mortality. Since its original publication in 1986 (Greenberg, Pyszczynski, & Solomon) it was quoted several thousand times and there are hundreds of publications about TMT – surely it is one of the most prominet theories within social psychology (Burke, Martens & Faucher, 2010). The original question of TMT is based on observations and thoughts published by the social anthropologist Ernest Becker (1973) in his book „The Denial of Death“. Here, the fear of one‘s own death is described as fundamental for any behavior and for the development of values and culture. Continue reading...

Intention-Behavior-Gap and Intention Implementations
Don’t you know those situations? You are trying to live more environmentally friendly by reducing your waste production. However, just as you step into your local bakery store and receive your order in three different bags, with pieces of cake separated by plastic layers and your coffee to go served with a plastic lid, you fail to achieve your new intentions. Why does that happen so often even though you were determined to follow your goal? One explanation is the “intention-behavior-gap”. In the following article, we will go into detail, explain the phenomenon, and give some tips and tricks to handle the obstacles on your way to achieve your intentions. Continue reading...