Environmental Decision-Making

Supported Research

Approaches to overcome politically motivated choices about climate change

Errors and biases in decision-making can occur when intuitive judgments lead people toward less-than-ideal options. One cause of these errors and biases is motivated reasoning, which refers to the way someone’s intuitively-desired outcome influences their reasoning so as to make that outcome even more likely. This research focuses on politically-motivated reasoning related to outcomes or a political identity that may not align with an individual’s more deeply held values and objectives. Through this work, we’ll develop and test decision-support approaches that help decision-makers more carefully consider their deeply held values and objectives when making decisions about how to respond to climate change.

Climate change misinformation and disinformation on social media 

Misinformation and disinformation (“fake news”) about climate change mimics the appearance of legitimate reporting but is intended to mislead readers. Through this research, we are studying ways to limit the spread of inaccurate information about climate change on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. For example, we are testing the effectiveness of interventions that encourage more critical reasoning about social media content, as well as interventions that activate feelings of being misled.

Public acceptance of technological solutions to sustainability challenges

People and communities are increasingly confronting sustainability challenges that require technological solutions. However, technological solutions to sustainability challenges often evoke strongly negative reactions from people who are asked to adopt them. This research studies the social and technical variables that may encourage or hinder the public’s acceptance of sustainability technologies such as solar geoengineering, plant-based “meat,” fertilizers developed from recycled human urine, societal interventions needed to stop a pandemic, and the like. Building on these studies, we are also exploring strategies that could increase public adoption of such technologies.

Recent Publications

Segrè Cohen, A., L. Lutzke, C. Drummond, and J. Árvai. 2022. I think, therefore I act: The influence of critical reasoning ability on trust and behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic. Risk Analysis. Read >>

Larkin, C., C. Drummond Otten, and J. Árvai. 2022. Paging Dr. JARVIS! Will people accept advice from artificial intelligence for consequential risk management decisions? Journal of Risk Research. Read >>

Bessette, D. L., R. S. Wilson, and J. L. Arvai. 2022. Do people disagree with themselves? Exploring the internal consistency of complex, unfamiliar, and risky decisions. Journal of Risk Research. Read >>

Lutzke, L., and J. Árvai. 2021. Consumer acceptance of products from carbon capture and utilization. Climatic Change. Read >>

Árvai, J., and R. Gregory. 2021. Beyond choice architecture: A building code for structuring climate risk management decisions. Behavioural Public Policy. Read >>