Understanding people and planet

Introduction

Our research considers how humans engage in the fulfilment of our needs and desires while interacting with our environment. We are interested in how human behaviour is influenced by the complex interaction of biological, psychological, social, and environmental factors. And how humans then behave towards others and the wider world.

We combine the more traditional methods of surveys, experimental studies, and focus groups with modern-day biosensor and imaging technology to assess how structural, community, and individual factors allow us to understand and interact with each other and the planet we live on. Our work includes three key topics:

Our research

Nature Connectedness Research Group 

Our nature connectedness research aims to understand people’s sense of their relationship with the natural world. We create everyday interventions to improve this relationship for the wellbeing of humans and nature. Our research is good for nature and it is good for you.

The Nature Connectedness Research Group was the first to focus on this area and has led several innovations, such as:

The group’s research has been honoured in the UK’s 100 Best Breakthroughs list, compiled by Universities UK, for its pioneering work looking at people’s sense of their relationship with the natural world

Current funded projects include:

Belief: Identity, Cognition, Personality, and Experience

Our B:ICEP (Belief: Identity, Cognition, Personality, and Experience) group focuses on research belief and related areas, such as dark personalities. Belief is an important area of research because it:

Our research goes beyond paranormal and religious beliefs and also includes beliefs about nature, scientific beliefs, thinking biases and conspiracy theories.

Also linked with B:ICEP, our cognitive psychology research covers topics such as cognitive load, expertise and errors, attentional biases, judgment and decision making, executive functioning and reasoning.

Current funded projects include:

Crime, Society and Justice

An overarching theme of research in this area is gender-based offending and safeguarding of vulnerable persons. This includes both offending behaviours and those who are the victims of crime, for example:

Having contributed evidence to the Domestic Abuse Act 2021, we are currently leading on the evaluation of two domestic abuse interventions within the UK. Here, we aim to assess the efficacy and impact of interventions aimed at both male and female adult victims of domestic abuse as well as child victims.

a person walking alone through a forest of tall, slender trees
Man sitting in the background with gold scales in the foreground.

Impact and real-world evidence of research

Our Nature Connectedness researchers helped develop the 30 Days Wild campaign run by The Wildlife Trusts which has improved the health and wellbeing of 1,000,000 people in the UK.

Our Crime, Society, and Justice research has informed judicial policy in areas such as domestic abuse, stalking behaviors and cyberbullying.

Our internationally funded B:ICEP research has examined conspiracies and beliefs around Covid-19, and the impact of dark personalities.