Special Issue "The Social Psychology of Climate Change: New Challenges for a Healthier and More Sustainable World"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Psychology of Sustainability and Sustainable Development".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 October 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Ricardo García Mira
Guest Editor
Department of Psychology, University of A Coruña, 15071 A Coruña, Spain
Interests: transition to sustainable lifestyles; clean energy transitions; sustainability and social innovation; the role of communities in knowledge co-production; research and policy; pro-environmental behavior models
Dr. Graciela Tonello
Guest Editor
Faculty of Psychology, National University of Tucumán, San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina
Interests: Light and Health; Non visual (psychobiological) effects of light and lighting; Environmental perception; Psychology of sustainability; Environmental psychology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Over the past few decades, human social behavior has shown its influence on a number of complex systems. Ecosystems, the networks into which society is organized, and the climate are some examples. This influence, in turn, has had returned an impact on human activities, which is not without risk and new threats. Specifically, psychology has not been absent from the study of the human dimensions involved in climate change, and in particular, in the psychological processes that allow us to better understand the risks that we face. Some contributions have focused on the theoretical aspects, which seek to establish models to predict the activation of responsible behavior, as an adaptation to the new climate emergency. Others have been more oriented towards modeling and the social simulation of climate-related behavior. Both approaches attempt to serve as a basis for the implementation of policies or combinations of policies that activate change in society.

The current economic model, based on growth and consumption in order to achieve a level of well-being, constitutes a major obstacle to the development of general political agendas that generate effective change. Such a barrier is evidenced by examining the functioning of psychological theories that manage to achieve statistical consistency in their models; however, this does not work in real contexts. This analysis has led researchers to pose new challenges, which might better understand the strategies people use with regard to climate change. These include social interaction, social influence, social learning, and social innovation, exploring the activation of changes in complex systems, and in particular, those where it is possible to analyze possible inflection points.

The Covid-19 outbreak, without going any further, and climate change, to which it is related through the breakdown of the natural barriers that separate us from other species, are examples of systems that can go beyond this turning point, placing us in a context of maximum interest. What is happening with Covid-19, therefore, has not taken us by surprise, considering that we can clearly identify its anthropocentric origin and how it is related to climate change, i.e., from the alterations that human beings have caused in the cycle of ecosystems that maintain equilibrium at the planetary level.

The focus of this Special Issue is therefore to critically analyze the psychosocial and community impacts of climate change, the mediating variables of these impacts, personal and collective responsibility for the phenomenon, as well as the need to transform our unsustainable lifestyles into others that are healthier and more sustainable. Some potential examples of topics are as follows:

- The analysis of dimensions such as social and environmental vulnerability, urban resilience, mental health, violence and crime, from a psychosocial perspective;

- Psychological barriers that limit climate action, such as uncertainty, mistrust, denial of the threat, and attachment to place;

- Theoretical and methodological contributions from environmental psychology, such as specific formulae used to define the response of cities to the challenge of sustainability, reducing the impact of climate change with solutions based on natural resources management;

- The relationship between security, well-being, and social cohesion with the presence of natural resources as an integral part of urban space, and its relationship with adaptation to climate change and disaster risk;

- The exploration of climate resilience factors that have a key role in helping cities to adapt to climate change;

- Reciprocal relationships between people and their natural and built-up environment, with its social, economic, cultural, and environmental concomitances;

- The impact of noise, traffic, and population density, and how this affects social cognition, emotions, and behavior.

In conclusion, this Special Issue aims to establish bridges between psychological, social, and environmental approaches in exploring human behavior in order to adapt to climate change. We are therefore calling for articles that address the impact of climate change on human behavior, emphasizing the psychosocial processes that govern our adaptation-oriented decisions. Inter- or transdisciplinary approaches are welcome, to the extent that they incorporate contributions that help clarify psychosocial theory applied to climate change, and serve as a basis for the implementation of policies or combinations of policies based on research evidence.

Prof. Dr. Ricardo García Mira
Dr. Graciela Tonello
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • sustainable lifestyles
  • adaptation
  • climate resilience
  • social cognition
  • climate change
  • vulnerability

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
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