How our personal qualities make us care for the planet by Beth Warman

Beth Warman

Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Beth Warman, a PhD student at the University of Lincoln, studying the psychology of what lies behind pro-environmental behaviours. When it comes to understanding why people live in environmentally sustainable ways, most research carried out by psychologists has been fairly negative. That is, psychologists tend to focus on two main pathways: 1. why people do not engage in such behaviours, and 2. how we can make people feel bad enough to provoke them into pro-environmental action [1]. Neither of these approaches has much of a track-record of long-term success – likely because neither of them actually encourage people to ‘care’ for the planet or about the impacts of climate change.

There must be a more positive way to encourage people to live sustainably. That is why I am dedicating my doctoral research to exploring the relationship between pro-environmental behaviours and positive qualities of character (like spirituality, hope, wisdom, gratitude and so on). It seems to me that the very qualities that make us good human beings must also somehow predispose us to care for our planet [2]. The very existence of organisations such as JRI, suggests that there may be some kind of connection between conscious, ethical living and environmental concern. And that’s what my research is about. I’d love for you to be involved if you are able.


The first phase of my PhD project is an online questionnaire. It’s about 30 minutes long and asks a whole series of questions about engagement in pro-environmental behaviours, well-being, everyday mindfulness and strengths of character. One of these questionnaires is the VIA Inventory of Strengths (VIA-IS), which provides a personal profile of your strengths. If you take part, you will be able to see your strengths profile at the end of the questionnaire.

The questionnaire is completely anonymous and confidential, adheres to GDPR and has been approved by the University of Lincoln’s School of Psychology Ethics Committee.

If you are interested in taking part, please follow the link below to complete the questionnaire:

The deadline for taking part is 28th February.

Beth Warman is a PhD Student and Research Assistant at the University of Lincoln, working alongside Dr Roger Bretherton. She received her BSc in Psychology from the University of Lincoln. An environmentalist herself, she aims to make a difference through her research.


[1] Corral-Verdugo, V. (2012). The positive psychology of sustainability. Environment, Development and Sustainability, 14, 651-666. doi:10.1007/s10668-012-9346-8

[2] Corral-Verdugo, V., Tapia-Fonllem, C., & Ortiz-Valdez A. (2015). On the Relationship between Character Strengths and Sustainable Behavior. Environment and Behaviour, 47, 877-901. doi:10.1177/0013916514530718

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