The Grand Challenges of Psychological Science: Climate Change

As part of its strategic planning, APS recently asked members to identify the ‘grand challenges‘ for our discipline. I wrote, of course, about climate change. The latest APS Observer summarised responses from members from all round the world. The article is here.

These are the grand challenges discussed in the article:

  • Globalization and Diversity — getting beyond WEIRD
  • Research Integrity and Applicability — Open Science, trustworthiness and practical usefulness
  • Collaboration Across Fields and Disciplines
  • Climate Change
  • Communication, Polarization, and Public Trust
  • Strengthening Theory–and the Road Ahead

Climate Change

Here’s how the section on climate change started:

As a basic matter of societal survival, addressing climate change stood out among the priorities of APS members in
every generational cohort. “In my list of top 10 priorities for urgent research, application, and outreach attention, climate change would occupy Positions 1, 2, and 3, and probably a couple more slots as well,” wrote Geoff Cumming, a retired APS Fellow and quantitative psychologist from La Trobe University. “So many other urgent priorities, such as food supply, severe weather events, inequality, violence, disease and pandemic risks, safe water supply, livable housing, discrimination … all are exacerbated by climate change. Basically, if we don’t make massive strides on climate change mitigation and adaptation, then our children and grandchildren will have little or no chance of a decent life.”

Effecting positive action, he added, “requires attitude and behavior change—the very core business of psychological science.” He called upon all research fields within the discipline “to take on relevant climate change topics, challenges, and opportunities.”

…then the article went on to quote several other members’ proposals about priorities for psychological research and application for climate change mitigation and adaptation.



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