Dr Kayleigh Wyles

Research Interests

Environmental Psychology focuses on the relationship between people and their physical environment. This encompasses two key aspects: 1) the influence humans have on the environment (thus understanding the determinants and drivers of behaviours that have positive or negative impacts on the physical setting); and 2) the influence the environment has on individuals (in terms of experiences, behaviour and well-being). Across both my research and teaching, I am interested in exploring both aspects independently and together, with the marine environment as a common theme throughout.

The Marine Environment

Whilst 70% of the Earth consists of oceans and seas, this natural setting is often overlooked. Consequently, my research often looks at the human dimension of threats facing this environment (e.g. microplastics, marine litter, and overfishing), and people’s use and experience of this natural setting. In order to address these global multidisciplinary topics, I have worked with economists, marine biologists, oceanographers, geographers, modellers, artists, and environmental scientists from a range of countries (including Brazil, Norway, USA, Chile, South Korea, and Sweden).

Restorative Environments

Experiencing nature can be therapeutic, restoring people’s cognitive functioning and promoting their physical and mental health. I’m interested in exploring the mechanisms as to why nature (and especially coastal and marine settings) have these benefits, looking at the importance of connectedness to nature and place attachment, childhood upbringing, and the type and quality of the environment.

Drivers of Behaviour Change

Individuals can have a dramatic impact on the state of the natural environment, from their consumer choice, to everyday behaviours to political will. Within my work, I’m interested in understanding key drivers of behaviour and behaviour change, including the role habits have, value orientation, knowledge and perceptions but also people’s links to the environment such as childhood upbringing and connectedness to nature.

Application and Impact

A key driver of all of this work is to be useful and applied locally, nationally, and internationally. Consequently, I am active in advising decision makers, such as contributing to parliamentary enquiries and advising the United Nations through GESAMP (Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection)


I contribute to the following modules: 

PSY3072 - Environmental Psychology for the BSc in Psychology, 

PSYM066 - Key Questions in Environmental Psychology: People & Place, 

PSYM067 - The Psychology of Sustainable Development, and 

PSYM034 - Dissertation of the MSc programme.


I am a member of the British Psychological Society and the International Association for People-Environment Studies (IAPS), and a convenor for the IAPS’ Restorative Environments Network; part of Working Group 40 of GESAMP looking at microplastics in the marine environment, and an Associate Fellow of The Higher Education Academy.

Contact Me

Phone: 01483 68 6913

Find me on campus
Room: 21 AD 04

My office hours

Please email me to make an appointment (k.wyles@surrey.ac.uk)


Journal articles

  • Anderson AG, Grose J, Pahl S, Thompson RC, Wyles K. (2016) 'Microplastics in personal care products: Exploring perceptions of environmentalists, beauticians and students'. Marine Pollution Bulletin,


    Microplastics enter the environment as a result of larger plastic items breaking down (‘secondary’) and from particles originally manufactured at that size (‘primary’). Personal care productsare an important contributor of secondary microplastics (typically referred to as ‘microbeads’), for example in toothpaste, facial scrubs and soaps. Consumers play an important role in influencing the demand for these products and therefore any associated environmental consequences. Hence we need to understand public perceptions in order to help reduce emissions of microplastics. This study explored awareness of plastic microbeads in personal care products in three groups: environmental activists, trainee beauticians and university students in South West England. Focus groups were run, where participants were shown the quantity of microbeads found in individual high-street personal care products. Qualitative analysis showed that while the environmentalists were originally aware of the issue, it lacked visibility and immediacy for the beauticians and students. Yet when shown the amount of plastic in a range of familiar everyday personal care products, all participants expressed considerable surprise and concern at the quantities and potential impact. Regardless of any perceived level of harm in the environment, the consensus was that their use was unnatural and unnecessary. This research could inform future communications with the public and industry as well as policy initiatives to phase out the use of microbeads.

  • Pahl S, Wyles K. (2016) 'The human dimension: how social and behavioural research methods can help address microplastics in the environment'. Analytical Methods: advancing methods and applications,
  • Wyles KJ, Pahl S, Thomas K, Thompson RC. (2016) 'Factors that can undermine the psychological benefits of coastal environments: Exploring the effect of tidal state, presence, and type of litter.'. Environment and Behavior, 48 (9), pp. 1095-1126.
  • Wyles K, Pahl S, Holland M, Thompson RC. (2016) 'Can Beach Cleans Do More Than Clean-Up Litter? Comparing Beach Cleans to Other Coastal Activities'. Environment and Behavior,
  • Walker-Springett K, Jefferson R, Bock K, Breckwoldt A, Comby E, Cottet M, Hubner G, Le Lay YF, Shaw S, Wyles KJ. (2016) 'Ways forward for aquatic conservation: Applications of environmental psychology to support management objectives'. Journal of Environmental Management, 166, pp. 525-536.
  • Wyles KJ, Pahl S, Thompson RC. (2014) 'Perceived risks and benefits of recreational visits to the marine environment: Integrating impacts on the environment and impacts on the visitor'. Ocean and Coastal Management, 88, pp. 53-63.
  • Wyles KJ, Pahl S, White M, Morris S, Cracknell D, Thompson RC. (2013) 'Towards a Marine Mindset: Visiting an aquarium can improve attitudes and intentions regarding marine sustainability.'. Visitor Studies, 16 (1), pp. 95-110.


  • Kershaw PJ. (2016) Marine plastic debris and microplastics – Global lessons and research to inspire action and guide policy change.
  • UNEP and GRID-Arendal . (2016) Marine Litter Vital Graphics.
  • Wyles K, Hidalgo-Ruz V, Pahl S, Anderson A. (2015) Social aspects of microplastics in the marine environment. in (ed.) GESAMP reports & studies series: Sources, fate and effects of microplastics in the marine environment - a global assessment UK : INTERNATIONAL MARITIME ORGANIZATION Article number 90

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