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Susan Clayton

(FIAS Program) - College of Wooster
Whitmore-Williams Chair in Psychology
Exploring perceived connections between environmental and social issues
01 September 2021 -
30 June 2022

Susan Clayton is Whitmore-Williams Professor of Psychology at the College of Wooster in Ohio, USA. Her research focuses on the human relationship with nature, how it is socially constructed, and how it can be utilized to promote environmental conservation. She has written extensively about the impacts of zoo visits on environmental attitudes, and about the impacts of climate change on mental health and psychosocial wellbeing. Susan Clayton is a fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA), the Society for Environmental, Population, and Conservation Psychology (SEPCP), the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP), and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI). She is a lead author on the  6th assessment report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

In September 2021, she joined the Paris IAS as part of the French Institutes for Advanced Study fellowship program - FIAS - co-funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 945408. Her fellowship also benefits from the support of the RFIEA+ LABEX, with a national funding (Grant ANR-11-LABX-0027-01).

Research interests

Perceptions of environmental issues, Emotions and behavior in response to environmental degradation and climate change, Environmental identity

Exploring perceived connections between environmental and social issues

This research program has three goals.

First, it investigates perceptions of environmental issues, with a particular emphasis on the views of marginalized members of society. Through a series of focus groups, it should be determined whether they perceive environmental problems such as climate change, loss of biodiversity, and pollution to be connected to social problems such as racism and poverty, as well as threats to public health (both physical and mental health). It is also necessary to ask them about their motivations for environmentally protective behaviors and whether those reflect other goals in addition to environmental protection, such as personal or social wellbeing. As an extension of this, another survey explores whether people who perceive connections tend to be higher in environmental concern and pro-environmental behavior.

The second goal is to explore, using a survey, actual connections between people’s nature experiences and their perceived mental health and wellbeing.

The third goal is to experimentally test the impact of telling people about links between environmental and social issues on concern and support for related public policies, and intentions for pro-environmental behavior. The results are intended to help guide recommendations for messaging to more effectively encourage support for environmental conservation among individuals.


Key publications

Clayton Susan, Manning Christie (eds.), Psychology and climate change: Human perceptions, impacts, and responses, Elsevier Science & Technology, 2018, 312 p. https://doi.org/10.1016/C2016-0-04326-7

Clayton Susan, “Climate anxiety: Psychological responses to climate change”, in Journal of Anxiety Disorders, vol 74, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.janxdis.2020.102263

Clayton, S., Colléony, A., Conversy, P., et al., “Transformation of Experience: Toward a New Relationship with Nature” in Conservation Letters, vol 10, n°5, 2017, p. 645-651. https://doi.org/10.1111/conl.12337 

Latest publication

Clayton Susan, Nielsen, K.S., Marteau, T.M., et al., “Biodiversity conservation as a promising frontier for behavioral science”, in Nature Human Behavior, vol. 5, 2021, p. 550-556. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-021-01109-5

Talk of Susan Clayton (College of Wooster, 2021-2022 Paris IAS Fellow) with the participation of Panu Pihkala, Kirsti Jylha and Maria Ojala as part of the conference "Ecoanxiety" organized by Helsinki University
22 Jun 2022 16:30 -
22 Jun 2022 18:30,
Talk by Susan Clayton (College of Wooster, 2021-2022 Paris IAS Fellow) as part of the series "Forschungskolloquium des Fachbereichs Psychologie" organized by Universität Koblenz-Landau
15 Jun 2022 14:00 -
15 Jun 2022 16:00,
Climate anxiety and mental health: Psychological responses to climate change
Workshop organised by Susan Clayton, social psychologist, 2021-2022 Paris IAS Fellow
23 May 2022 15:30 -
23 May 2022 18:00,
Zoos confronting climate change
23 May 2022 13:00 -
23 May 2022 13:00,
A look back at our Researcher Susan Clayton's participation in the latest IPCC report
Carte blanche with Susan Clayton, social psychologist and 2021-2022 Paris IAS Fellow.
17 May 2022 19:00 -
17 May 2022 20:00,
Education for conservation: Understanding, creating, and activating human care for nature
Talk by Susan Clayton, 2021-2022 Paris IAS Fellow, as part of the American Climate Leadership Summit organized by ecoAmerica
30 Mar 2022 19:55 -
30 Mar 2022 20:50,
Mental Health + Our Changing Climate: Impacts, Inequities, Responses
Talk by Susan Clayton, 2021-2022 Paris IAS Fellow, as part of the "Energy Transition Conference" organized by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology
29 Mar 2022 16:00 -
29 Mar 2022 17:30,
People, polarization, and populism
Talk by Susan Clayton, 2021-2022 Paris IAS Fellow, as part of a webinar hosted by the George Washington University Climate and Health Institute
18 Feb 2022 18:00 -
18 Feb 2022 20:00,
Climate Change and Mental Health: Research to Action
Talk by Susan Clayton, social psychologist and Paris IAS Research Fellow, as part of the monthly meeting of the NGO Committee on the Status of Women (NGOCSW)
20 Jan 2022 14:30 -
20 Jan 2022 16:30,
Smog in the Air and in Your Mind: A Look at the Climate Crisis and Mental Health in a Time of COVID
Contemporary period (1789-…)
World or no region