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Environmental Psychology

Which factors induce environmentally harmful behaviour and what motivates people to act pro-environmentally and accept pro-environmental policies? How does the changing environment affect us?

Questions like these are addressed in the Master's programme 'Environmental psychology'. The programme focuses on the interactions between humans and their environment. You will acquire theoretical knowledge and methodological skills needed to understand the human dimension of environmental and energy-related problems. The programme is taught by the world-leading Environmental Psychology group at the University of Groningen.

There is an urgent demand for this expertise in environmental psychology. Governments and companies seek advice from environmental psychologists to understand the human dimension of sustainable development, and leading journals, such as Nature, stress the importance of the social sciences for understanding and tackling environmental and energy-related problems. This master will equip you for job opportunities that focus on finding effective and societally acceptable solutions to these problems.

Which factors induce environmentally harmful behaviour and what motivates people to act pro-environmentally and accept pro-environmental policies? How does the changing environment affect us?

Questions like these are addressed in the Master's programme 'Environmental psychology'. The programme focuses on the interactions between humans and their environment. You will acquire theoretical knowledge and methodological skills needed to understand the human dimension of environmental and energy-related problems. The programme is taught by the world-leading Environmental Psychology group at the University of Groningen.

There is an urgent demand for this expertise in environmental psychology. Governments and companies seek advice from environmental psychologists to understand the human dimension of sustainable development, and leading journals, such as Nature, stress the importance of the social sciences for understanding and tackling environmental and energy-related problems. This master will equip you for job opportunities that focus on finding effective and societally acceptable solutions to these problems.

We are searching for students:

  • with a Bachelor degree in Psychology
  • interested in understanding the interaction between human and the natural and build environment, and the role of psychology in understanding and managing environmental and energy problems
  • interested in the combination of theory and practice
  • planning a future career inside or outside academia

We are searching for students:

  • with a Bachelor degree in Psychology
  • interested in understanding the interaction between human and the natural and build environment, and the role of psychology in understanding and managing environmental and energy problems
  • interested in the combination of theory and practice
  • planning a future career inside or outside academia
More about this programme
  • Testimonial of

    Experiences of students and teachers of the Environmental Psychology master programme. Students Ruben Mul, Irene Maltagliati and Kit Slatford and lecturers dr. Goda Perlaviciute and dr. Kees Keizer talk about their master programme.

    Close
  • Testimonial of

    Master Track Environmental Psychology University of Groningen

    Climate change has been labelled as the greatest threat to our future and that of generations to come (Obama, 2015). In recognition of this threat, almost 200 nations agreed to fight this environmental problem caused by human behaviour. So which factors induce environmentally harmful behaviour and what motivates us to act pro-environmentally? What determines the impact and acceptability of interventions that aim to encourage pro-environmental actions and a sustainable energy transition?

    Close
  • Testimonial of

    Transition Debate prof. dr. Linda Steg

    Prof. Dr. (E.M.) Linda Steg, Professor of Environmental Psychology, gave a lecture about : "Why do we need psychology for a successful energy transition?" Psychology plays a big role in examining which factors influence the acceptance of renewable energy and how the society can be encouraged to use renewable energy sources in the best possible way. The lecture also highlighted how norms and values can influence people's behaviour and choices, when it comes to environmental issues.

    Close
  • Testimonial of researcher Linda Steg

    Environmental Psychology (in Dutch)

    – researcher Linda Steg
  • Testimonial of researcher Wesley Schultz

    BCEP 2015 Interview with Wesley Schultz

    – researcher Wesley Schultz
  • Testimonial of researcher Linda Steg

    BCEP 2015: Interview with Linda Steg

    – researcher Linda Steg
  • Testimonial of researcher Nadja Zeiske

    PhD student in Environmental Psychology at the University of Groningen

    My interest in environmental issues led me to pursue the research master Behavioural and Social sciences, where I could deepen my understanding of the topic and at the same time delve into the world of research.

    During my master’s I had a lot of courses on research methods and statistics, as well as a variety of courses in social psychology and environmental psychology. Furthermore, I was encouraged to join ongoing projects from faculty members, assist in research and attend lab meetings of the research groups in the department. I did a traineeship, literature studies and my master's thesis to specialise in Environmental Psychology.

    In July 2016 I started my PhD research in Environmental Psychology about smart energy incentives. I feel really confident in conducting my own research as I had a lot of practice and preparation throughout my master’s, especially by writing my master’s thesis in Environmental Psychology. My thesis was about evaluating a water and energy conservation programme for primary school children called “Water Savers” . Coordinating this project and working with schools and practitioners will be of great help to me for future larger projects that I will design and coordinate.
    I will see what the future holds. Maybe later on in life, I would like to start my own research and consultancy company in the field of sustainability. For now, I am really looking forward to working on my PhD topic for the next four years.

    Close
    – researcher Nadja Zeiske
  • Testimonial of student Jimi Wierth

    “There is so much knowledge here at the University of Groningen about environmental psychology.”

    During my Bachelor's degree programme in psychology I wasn't sure what I wanted to do after finishing my studies, but then the Master's programme in Environmental Psychology was launched. It sounded very appealing to me. I have always been interested in the environment and I think it is important that we do something about it.

    The most important topic of the Master's is sustainability. We study how you can encourage sustainable behaviour. I think it is very interesting to discover what can change people's behaviour and what can't.

    The Master's programme is really what I expected it to be. There are only eight students this year, so there are actually more lecturers than students. In the Bachelor's programme I learned a lot of theory but I didn't really know what to do with it. Here you learn how to put it into practice, and that's great.
    There is so much knowledge here at the RUG about Environmental Psychology. This is one of the few places in Europe where you can study it. All the lecturers are very friendly and personal, and you can always approach them with questions. For example, I'd like to do a placement at the Groningen municipality to get data for my thesis. The lecturers are very open to this. They really help you if you want to write your thesis at a business.
    At the moment we are following a course unit called 'Designing Interventions', where we learn how to apply theory in a way that is understandable to people who are not scientists. For this course unit, Dopper, a firm that produces sustainable water bottles, asked us to find out what the best way is to encourage people to drink tap water. It's great to do research for a real firm.

    After my studies I want to work for a business. I think there are lots of job opportunities in this field, in part because it's new. Many companies are becoming increasingly involved with sustainability and are looking for people with knowledge about this. So you could work as a policymaker or in an advisory group, for example.

    Contact: j.f.wierth@student.rug.nl

    Close
    – student Jimi Wierth
  • Testimonial of student Irene Maltagliati

    Groningen is one of the few places in Europe where you can study Environmental Psychology.

    I studied psychology in Italy and decided to come to the Netherlands to do a Master's degree. I heard from my Italian friends who were already studying in the Netherlands that it is a beautiful country, and that university classes are very different from those in Italy – that lectures are more interactive, and that the programmes have a more practical focus.

    This proved to be true during my first Master's degree programme in Maastricht, where I did Health Psychology. In the Netherlands lectures are more a dialogue than a monologue. I would like to do a PhD. Because in many European countries two years of Master's programmes are required for that, I decided to do a second Master's. I picked Environmental Psychology because I've always been interested in sustainability, but I never found it paired with psychology until I came to the Netherlands.

    There are various topics within environmental psychology. I'm most interested in pro-environmental behaviour: how you act towards the environment and what you can do to make your impact on it less harmful. This is a relatively new area in the field of psychology, and there are only a few places where you can study it in Europe. I believe that reducing our impact on the ecological environment is a huge priority now, and psychology can help to tackle many environmental problems that are caused by human behaviour.

    One of the course units in the programme is particularly interesting – we study a problem from everyday life. Someone from a large student association in Groningen came to tell us about a problem in his organization, namely that people are not cleaning up after themselves. We have one month to come up with an intervention which will make people clean up after themselves, without someone having to ask them every time. It's really enjoyable, and we get very good feedback from our lecturers.

    I like Groningen a lot. It's beautiful and it's nice that everyone cycles. It is easy to meet people: there are a lot of student organizations and events.

    Close
    – student Irene Maltagliati
  • Testimonial of alumnus Jiro Haratsuka

    I originally studied 'Environmental Engineering' in Japan. Environmental Psychology was a very interesting new field for me

    I originally studied 'Environmental Engineering' in Japan. When I graduated in 2003, I got a job as a government official at the Japanese Ministry of the Environment. A few years later, I got the opportunity to study for two years in The Netherlands. The first year, I studied 'Environment  and Resource Management' in Amsterdam and in the second year I started the master 'Environmental Psychology' in Groningen.

    ‘Environmental Psychology’ was a very interesting new field for me. For me as a government official, it is very important to understand how we can develop and implement policy interventions effectively, in the sense that it is accepted by the public and changes people’s behaviour.

    It was the first time I studied Psychology, and therefore it was very challenging for me. Because I had a lot of experience in Japan working on Environmental policy, the University allowed me to start the degree. It was very demanding, but at the same time very insightful and rewarding.

    In my current job, I am responsible for the construction of a new facility in Fukushima for the storage and treatment of contaminated soil and waste (the Fukushima nuclear power accident took place in 2011). We have to collect all the contaminated soil in one place where it can be treated for the next 30 years. We always need to take into consideration the attitudes and emotions of people who live near the facility. I can greatly benefit from the knowledge I gained from ‘Environmental Psychology’ in taking up this difficult task.

    In Japan, ‘Environmental Psychology’ is very new, but I think it is very important and it will become even more important in the future. Especially now it is very urgent for Japan to consider questions related to public acceptability of various energy sources and policies. Before the Fukushima accident, one third of the total energy in Japan was generated form nuclear power. The government would like to restart power stations but Japanese people are very skeptical about it after the accident. ‘Environmental Psychology’ can help us to understand better which key concerns people have about different energy sources and which sources they prefer and why.

    I really enjoyed studying in Groningen. It is a great city. There are so many young people and the atmosphere in the city and at the university is very nice. I also studied in Amsterdam and worked in Paris, but Groningen really was the best place for me.

    Close
    – alumnus Jiro Haratsuka
  • Testimonial of docent Goda Perlaviciute

    Goda Perlaviciute – Assistant Professor of Environmental Psychology

    I am an assistant professor in Environmental Psychology, which means I do both teaching and research in this field. A significant part of my work is coordinating the Environmental Psychology Master's track. This is a new programme, which is very exciting. I also teach a course unit for this programme: Advanced Topics in Environmental psychology.

    During this course unit, students select a theory or topic and they perform an in-depth investigation, they become an expert in that topic. These theories or topics can be selected from the contents of other course units or students can select them themselves. Examples include what motivates people to act in an environmentally friendly way, or what motivates public acceptability of energy projects.

    What makes this track interesting is the balance between theory and practice. Environmental Psychology has a strong theoretical approach to how we understand people’s behaviour and how to motivate environmentally friendly behaviour. Theory can be directly applied to solve practical problems. It also addresses very important social issues, for example public acceptability of gas production which causes earthquakes in the north of the Netherlands or the adoption of electric vehicles.

    Environmental psychology is a rapidly growing field with its own theory and research methods. Its theoretical and practical relevance is enormous, given the acute environmental challenges we are currently facing.  

    Students learn to understand the human aspects of transitioning to a more sustainable world. We are facing a huge challenge in climate change. There is of course political willingness and technology to help tackle it, but there is also a very strong human aspect. What do people actually want? What kind of solutions do they expect? What kind of solutions are they ready to adopt? Students gain the knowledge and skillset needed to advise politicians, industry and all other actors involved in the transition to sustainability.

    Close
    – docent Goda Perlaviciute
  • Testimonial of

    Experiences of students and teachers of the Environmental Psychology master programme. Students Ruben Mul, Irene Maltagliati and Kit Slatford and lecturers dr. Goda Perlaviciute and dr. Kees Keizer talk about their master programme.

    Close
  • Testimonial of

    Master Track Environmental Psychology University of Groningen

    Climate change has been labelled as the greatest threat to our future and that of generations to come (Obama, 2015). In recognition of this threat, almost 200 nations agreed to fight this environmental problem caused by human behaviour. So which factors induce environmentally harmful behaviour and what motivates us to act pro-environmentally? What determines the impact and acceptability of interventions that aim to encourage pro-environmental actions and a sustainable energy transition?

    Close
  • Testimonial of

    Transition Debate prof. dr. Linda Steg

    Prof. Dr. (E.M.) Linda Steg, Professor of Environmental Psychology, gave a lecture about : "Why do we need psychology for a successful energy transition?" Psychology plays a big role in examining which factors influence the acceptance of renewable energy and how the society can be encouraged to use renewable energy sources in the best possible way. The lecture also highlighted how norms and values can influence people's behaviour and choices, when it comes to environmental issues.

    Close
  • Testimonial of researcher Wesley Schultz

    BCEP 2015 Interview with Wesley Schultz

    – researcher Wesley Schultz
  • Testimonial of researcher Linda Steg

    BCEP 2015: Interview with Linda Steg

    – researcher Linda Steg
  • Testimonial of researcher Nadja Zeiske

    PhD student in Environmental Psychology at the University of Groningen

    My interest in environmental issues led me to pursue the research master Behavioural and Social sciences, where I could deepen my understanding of the topic and at the same time delve into the world of research.

    During my master’s I had a lot of courses on research methods and statistics, as well as a variety of courses in social psychology and environmental psychology. Furthermore, I was encouraged to join ongoing projects from faculty members, assist in research and attend lab meetings of the research groups in the department. I did a traineeship, literature studies and my master's thesis to specialise in Environmental Psychology.

    In July 2016 I started my PhD research in Environmental Psychology about smart energy incentives. I feel really confident in conducting my own research as I had a lot of practice and preparation throughout my master’s, especially by writing my master’s thesis in Environmental Psychology. My thesis was about evaluating a water and energy conservation programme for primary school children called “Water Savers” . Coordinating this project and working with schools and practitioners will be of great help to me for future larger projects that I will design and coordinate.
    I will see what the future holds. Maybe later on in life, I would like to start my own research and consultancy company in the field of sustainability. For now, I am really looking forward to working on my PhD topic for the next four years.

    Close
    – researcher Nadja Zeiske
  • Testimonial of student Jimi Wierth

    “There is so much knowledge here at the University of Groningen about environmental psychology.”

    During my Bachelor's degree programme in psychology I wasn't sure what I wanted to do after finishing my studies, but then the Master's programme in Environmental Psychology was launched. It sounded very appealing to me. I have always been interested in the environment and I think it is important that we do something about it.

    The most important topic of the Master's is sustainability. We study how you can encourage sustainable behaviour. I think it is very interesting to discover what can change people's behaviour and what can't.

    The Master's programme is really what I expected it to be. There are only eight students this year, so there are actually more lecturers than students. In the Bachelor's programme I learned a lot of theory but I didn't really know what to do with it. Here you learn how to put it into practice, and that's great.
    There is so much knowledge here at the RUG about Environmental Psychology. This is one of the few places in Europe where you can study it. All the lecturers are very friendly and personal, and you can always approach them with questions. For example, I'd like to do a placement at the Groningen municipality to get data for my thesis. The lecturers are very open to this. They really help you if you want to write your thesis at a business.
    At the moment we are following a course unit called 'Designing Interventions', where we learn how to apply theory in a way that is understandable to people who are not scientists. For this course unit, Dopper, a firm that produces sustainable water bottles, asked us to find out what the best way is to encourage people to drink tap water. It's great to do research for a real firm.

    After my studies I want to work for a business. I think there are lots of job opportunities in this field, in part because it's new. Many companies are becoming increasingly involved with sustainability and are looking for people with knowledge about this. So you could work as a policymaker or in an advisory group, for example.

    Contact: j.f.wierth@student.rug.nl

    Close
    – student Jimi Wierth
  • Testimonial of student Irene Maltagliati

    Groningen is one of the few places in Europe where you can study Environmental Psychology.

    I studied psychology in Italy and decided to come to the Netherlands to do a Master's degree. I heard from my Italian friends who were already studying in the Netherlands that it is a beautiful country, and that university classes are very different from those in Italy – that lectures are more interactive, and that the programmes have a more practical focus.

    This proved to be true during my first Master's degree programme in Maastricht, where I did Health Psychology. In the Netherlands lectures are more a dialogue than a monologue. I would like to do a PhD. Because in many European countries two years of Master's programmes are required for that, I decided to do a second Master's. I picked Environmental Psychology because I've always been interested in sustainability, but I never found it paired with psychology until I came to the Netherlands.

    There are various topics within environmental psychology. I'm most interested in pro-environmental behaviour: how you act towards the environment and what you can do to make your impact on it less harmful. This is a relatively new area in the field of psychology, and there are only a few places where you can study it in Europe. I believe that reducing our impact on the ecological environment is a huge priority now, and psychology can help to tackle many environmental problems that are caused by human behaviour.

    One of the course units in the programme is particularly interesting – we study a problem from everyday life. Someone from a large student association in Groningen came to tell us about a problem in his organization, namely that people are not cleaning up after themselves. We have one month to come up with an intervention which will make people clean up after themselves, without someone having to ask them every time. It's really enjoyable, and we get very good feedback from our lecturers.

    I like Groningen a lot. It's beautiful and it's nice that everyone cycles. It is easy to meet people: there are a lot of student organizations and events.

    Close
    – student Irene Maltagliati
  • Testimonial of alumnus Jiro Haratsuka

    I originally studied 'Environmental Engineering' in Japan. Environmental Psychology was a very interesting new field for me

    I originally studied 'Environmental Engineering' in Japan. When I graduated in 2003, I got a job as a government official at the Japanese Ministry of the Environment. A few years later, I got the opportunity to study for two years in The Netherlands. The first year, I studied 'Environment  and Resource Management' in Amsterdam and in the second year I started the master 'Environmental Psychology' in Groningen.

    ‘Environmental Psychology’ was a very interesting new field for me. For me as a government official, it is very important to understand how we can develop and implement policy interventions effectively, in the sense that it is accepted by the public and changes people’s behaviour.

    It was the first time I studied Psychology, and therefore it was very challenging for me. Because I had a lot of experience in Japan working on Environmental policy, the University allowed me to start the degree. It was very demanding, but at the same time very insightful and rewarding.

    In my current job, I am responsible for the construction of a new facility in Fukushima for the storage and treatment of contaminated soil and waste (the Fukushima nuclear power accident took place in 2011). We have to collect all the contaminated soil in one place where it can be treated for the next 30 years. We always need to take into consideration the attitudes and emotions of people who live near the facility. I can greatly benefit from the knowledge I gained from ‘Environmental Psychology’ in taking up this difficult task.

    In Japan, ‘Environmental Psychology’ is very new, but I think it is very important and it will become even more important in the future. Especially now it is very urgent for Japan to consider questions related to public acceptability of various energy sources and policies. Before the Fukushima accident, one third of the total energy in Japan was generated form nuclear power. The government would like to restart power stations but Japanese people are very skeptical about it after the accident. ‘Environmental Psychology’ can help us to understand better which key concerns people have about different energy sources and which sources they prefer and why.

    I really enjoyed studying in Groningen. It is a great city. There are so many young people and the atmosphere in the city and at the university is very nice. I also studied in Amsterdam and worked in Paris, but Groningen really was the best place for me.

    Close
    – alumnus Jiro Haratsuka
  • Testimonial of docent Goda Perlaviciute

    Goda Perlaviciute – Assistant Professor of Environmental Psychology

    I am an assistant professor in Environmental Psychology, which means I do both teaching and research in this field. A significant part of my work is coordinating the Environmental Psychology Master's track. This is a new programme, which is very exciting. I also teach a course unit for this programme: Advanced Topics in Environmental psychology.

    During this course unit, students select a theory or topic and they perform an in-depth investigation, they become an expert in that topic. These theories or topics can be selected from the contents of other course units or students can select them themselves. Examples include what motivates people to act in an environmentally friendly way, or what motivates public acceptability of energy projects.

    What makes this track interesting is the balance between theory and practice. Environmental Psychology has a strong theoretical approach to how we understand people’s behaviour and how to motivate environmentally friendly behaviour. Theory can be directly applied to solve practical problems. It also addresses very important social issues, for example public acceptability of gas production which causes earthquakes in the north of the Netherlands or the adoption of electric vehicles.

    Environmental psychology is a rapidly growing field with its own theory and research methods. Its theoretical and practical relevance is enormous, given the acute environmental challenges we are currently facing.  

    Students learn to understand the human aspects of transitioning to a more sustainable world. We are facing a huge challenge in climate change. There is of course political willingness and technology to help tackle it, but there is also a very strong human aspect. What do people actually want? What kind of solutions do they expect? What kind of solutions are they ready to adopt? Students gain the knowledge and skillset needed to advise politicians, industry and all other actors involved in the transition to sustainability.

    Close
    – docent Goda Perlaviciute
  • Testimonial of

    Experiences of students and teachers of the Environmental Psychology master programme. Students Ruben Mul, Irene Maltagliati and Kit Slatford and lecturers dr. Goda Perlaviciute and dr. Kees Keizer talk about their master programme.

    Close
  • Testimonial of

    Master Track Environmental Psychology University of Groningen

    Climate change has been labelled as the greatest threat to our future and that of generations to come (Obama, 2015). In recognition of this threat, almost 200 nations agreed to fight this environmental problem caused by human behaviour. So which factors induce environmentally harmful behaviour and what motivates us to act pro-environmentally? What determines the impact and acceptability of interventions that aim to encourage pro-environmental actions and a sustainable energy transition?

    Close
  • Testimonial of

    Transition Debate prof. dr. Linda Steg

    Prof. Dr. (E.M.) Linda Steg, Professor of Environmental Psychology, gave a lecture about : "Why do we need psychology for a successful energy transition?" Psychology plays a big role in examining which factors influence the acceptance of renewable energy and how the society can be encouraged to use renewable energy sources in the best possible way. The lecture also highlighted how norms and values can influence people's behaviour and choices, when it comes to environmental issues.

    Close
  • Testimonial of researcher Wesley Schultz

    BCEP 2015 Interview with Wesley Schultz

    – researcher Wesley Schultz
  • Testimonial of researcher Linda Steg

    BCEP 2015: Interview with Linda Steg

    – researcher Linda Steg
  • Testimonial of researcher Nadja Zeiske

    PhD student in Environmental Psychology at the University of Groningen

    My interest in environmental issues led me to pursue the research master Behavioural and Social sciences, where I could deepen my understanding of the topic and at the same time delve into the world of research.

    During my master’s I had a lot of courses on research methods and statistics, as well as a variety of courses in social psychology and environmental psychology. Furthermore, I was encouraged to join ongoing projects from faculty members, assist in research and attend lab meetings of the research groups in the department. I did a traineeship, literature studies and my master's thesis to specialise in Environmental Psychology.

    In July 2016 I started my PhD research in Environmental Psychology about smart energy incentives. I feel really confident in conducting my own research as I had a lot of practice and preparation throughout my master’s, especially by writing my master’s thesis in Environmental Psychology. My thesis was about evaluating a water and energy conservation programme for primary school children called “Water Savers” . Coordinating this project and working with schools and practitioners will be of great help to me for future larger projects that I will design and coordinate.
    I will see what the future holds. Maybe later on in life, I would like to start my own research and consultancy company in the field of sustainability. For now, I am really looking forward to working on my PhD topic for the next four years.

    Close
    – researcher Nadja Zeiske
  • Testimonial of student Jimi Wierth

    “There is so much knowledge here at the University of Groningen about environmental psychology.”

    During my Bachelor's degree programme in psychology I wasn't sure what I wanted to do after finishing my studies, but then the Master's programme in Environmental Psychology was launched. It sounded very appealing to me. I have always been interested in the environment and I think it is important that we do something about it.

    The most important topic of the Master's is sustainability. We study how you can encourage sustainable behaviour. I think it is very interesting to discover what can change people's behaviour and what can't.

    The Master's programme is really what I expected it to be. There are only eight students this year, so there are actually more lecturers than students. In the Bachelor's programme I learned a lot of theory but I didn't really know what to do with it. Here you learn how to put it into practice, and that's great.
    There is so much knowledge here at the RUG about Environmental Psychology. This is one of the few places in Europe where you can study it. All the lecturers are very friendly and personal, and you can always approach them with questions. For example, I'd like to do a placement at the Groningen municipality to get data for my thesis. The lecturers are very open to this. They really help you if you want to write your thesis at a business.
    At the moment we are following a course unit called 'Designing Interventions', where we learn how to apply theory in a way that is understandable to people who are not scientists. For this course unit, Dopper, a firm that produces sustainable water bottles, asked us to find out what the best way is to encourage people to drink tap water. It's great to do research for a real firm.

    After my studies I want to work for a business. I think there are lots of job opportunities in this field, in part because it's new. Many companies are becoming increasingly involved with sustainability and are looking for people with knowledge about this. So you could work as a policymaker or in an advisory group, for example.

    Contact: j.f.wierth@student.rug.nl

    Close
    – student Jimi Wierth
  • Testimonial of student Irene Maltagliati

    Groningen is one of the few places in Europe where you can study Environmental Psychology.

    I studied psychology in Italy and decided to come to the Netherlands to do a Master's degree. I heard from my Italian friends who were already studying in the Netherlands that it is a beautiful country, and that university classes are very different from those in Italy – that lectures are more interactive, and that the programmes have a more practical focus.

    This proved to be true during my first Master's degree programme in Maastricht, where I did Health Psychology. In the Netherlands lectures are more a dialogue than a monologue. I would like to do a PhD. Because in many European countries two years of Master's programmes are required for that, I decided to do a second Master's. I picked Environmental Psychology because I've always been interested in sustainability, but I never found it paired with psychology until I came to the Netherlands.

    There are various topics within environmental psychology. I'm most interested in pro-environmental behaviour: how you act towards the environment and what you can do to make your impact on it less harmful. This is a relatively new area in the field of psychology, and there are only a few places where you can study it in Europe. I believe that reducing our impact on the ecological environment is a huge priority now, and psychology can help to tackle many environmental problems that are caused by human behaviour.

    One of the course units in the programme is particularly interesting – we study a problem from everyday life. Someone from a large student association in Groningen came to tell us about a problem in his organization, namely that people are not cleaning up after themselves. We have one month to come up with an intervention which will make people clean up after themselves, without someone having to ask them every time. It's really enjoyable, and we get very good feedback from our lecturers.

    I like Groningen a lot. It's beautiful and it's nice that everyone cycles. It is easy to meet people: there are a lot of student organizations and events.

    Close
    – student Irene Maltagliati
  • Testimonial of alumnus Jiro Haratsuka

    I originally studied 'Environmental Engineering' in Japan. Environmental Psychology was a very interesting new field for me

    I originally studied 'Environmental Engineering' in Japan. When I graduated in 2003, I got a job as a government official at the Japanese Ministry of the Environment. A few years later, I got the opportunity to study for two years in The Netherlands. The first year, I studied 'Environment  and Resource Management' in Amsterdam and in the second year I started the master 'Environmental Psychology' in Groningen.

    ‘Environmental Psychology’ was a very interesting new field for me. For me as a government official, it is very important to understand how we can develop and implement policy interventions effectively, in the sense that it is accepted by the public and changes people’s behaviour.

    It was the first time I studied Psychology, and therefore it was very challenging for me. Because I had a lot of experience in Japan working on Environmental policy, the University allowed me to start the degree. It was very demanding, but at the same time very insightful and rewarding.

    In my current job, I am responsible for the construction of a new facility in Fukushima for the storage and treatment of contaminated soil and waste (the Fukushima nuclear power accident took place in 2011). We have to collect all the contaminated soil in one place where it can be treated for the next 30 years. We always need to take into consideration the attitudes and emotions of people who live near the facility. I can greatly benefit from the knowledge I gained from ‘Environmental Psychology’ in taking up this difficult task.

    In Japan, ‘Environmental Psychology’ is very new, but I think it is very important and it will become even more important in the future. Especially now it is very urgent for Japan to consider questions related to public acceptability of various energy sources and policies. Before the Fukushima accident, one third of the total energy in Japan was generated form nuclear power. The government would like to restart power stations but Japanese people are very skeptical about it after the accident. ‘Environmental Psychology’ can help us to understand better which key concerns people have about different energy sources and which sources they prefer and why.

    I really enjoyed studying in Groningen. It is a great city. There are so many young people and the atmosphere in the city and at the university is very nice. I also studied in Amsterdam and worked in Paris, but Groningen really was the best place for me.

    Close
    – alumnus Jiro Haratsuka
  • Testimonial of docent Goda Perlaviciute

    Goda Perlaviciute – Assistant Professor of Environmental Psychology

    I am an assistant professor in Environmental Psychology, which means I do both teaching and research in this field. A significant part of my work is coordinating the Environmental Psychology Master's track. This is a new programme, which is very exciting. I also teach a course unit for this programme: Advanced Topics in Environmental psychology.

    During this course unit, students select a theory or topic and they perform an in-depth investigation, they become an expert in that topic. These theories or topics can be selected from the contents of other course units or students can select them themselves. Examples include what motivates people to act in an environmentally friendly way, or what motivates public acceptability of energy projects.

    What makes this track interesting is the balance between theory and practice. Environmental Psychology has a strong theoretical approach to how we understand people’s behaviour and how to motivate environmentally friendly behaviour. Theory can be directly applied to solve practical problems. It also addresses very important social issues, for example public acceptability of gas production which causes earthquakes in the north of the Netherlands or the adoption of electric vehicles.

    Environmental psychology is a rapidly growing field with its own theory and research methods. Its theoretical and practical relevance is enormous, given the acute environmental challenges we are currently facing.  

    Students learn to understand the human aspects of transitioning to a more sustainable world. We are facing a huge challenge in climate change. There is of course political willingness and technology to help tackle it, but there is also a very strong human aspect. What do people actually want? What kind of solutions do they expect? What kind of solutions are they ready to adopt? Students gain the knowledge and skillset needed to advise politicians, industry and all other actors involved in the transition to sustainability.

    Close
    – docent Goda Perlaviciute
Facts & Figures
Degree
MSc in Psychology
Croho code
60260
Course type
Master
Language of instruction
English (100%)
Duration
12 months (60 ECTS)
Start
February, SeptemberFebruary, September
Programme form
full-time
Faculty
Behavioural and Social Sciences