Dr Chris Jones
Dr Chris Jones is a Senior Lecturer in Social and Environmental Psychology, with particular interests in attitudes and behaviours towards energy and environment.
He gained his first degree in Psychology (BSc) at the University of Birmingham (1999-2002) before moving to the University of Sheffield to complete a Master’s degree in Psychological Research (2002-2003) and a PhD in Social Psychology (2003-2007). His PhD, completed under the supervision of Prof. J. Richard Eiser, focused on understanding more about the nature and process of attitude formation in novel environments.
Upon completing his PhD, Chris completed a 4-year post-doctoral position on the ‘Understanding Risk: Climate change and energy choices’ project (2007-2010). It was this multi-centre (Cardiff, Sheffield & UEA), multi-disciplinary project that first stimulated Chris’s research interests in public attitudes towards environmental change.
Following his appointment as Lecturer in Social and Environmental Psychology at the University of Sheffield (2011), Chris continued to develop these interests and developed two key strands of research: (1) Assessing attitudes and behaviour towards energy supply and demand side technology options; and (2) Assessing the factors that facilitate and inhibit the promotion of more sustainable lifestyles. The applied relevance of these topics has led Chris to develop a number of fruitful collaborations with academics in other disciplines, as well as a number of non-academic stakeholder groups (e.g. business and industry).
Chris joined the University of Surrey in the summer of 2017.
Alongside his research and teaching roles, Chris is the Knowledge Exchange and Impact Lead for the School of Psychology, the Urban Living Research Theme Lead for the University, and the founder and chair of the University of Surrey Living Lab initiative.
Areas of specialism
University roles and responsibilities
- Knowledge Exchange and Impact Lead for School of Psychology
- Urban Living Research Theme Lead for the University of Surrey
- Chair of University of Surrey Living Lab Initiative
- Interim Lead of the Social Emotions and Equality in Relations (SEER) group
My research focuses on public attitudes and responses to environmental change. The interdisciplinary and applied nature of my research has led to collaborations with a number of disciplines, including chemical engineering, town and regional planning, geography, landscape, computer science, management, journalism studies and sustainable fashion. I also have a number of historical and on-going collaborations with business and industry.
My research tends to cluster under two broad themes:
- Public Acceptance of Energy TechnologiesAssessing attitudes and behaviour towards established and emerging supply and demand side technology options (e.g. nuclear power, wind power, carbon dioxide storage and utilisation, smart metering). This includes understanding the implications for planning policy, public engagement and communication, etc.
- Sustainability and Pro-environmental BehaviourAssessing the factors that facilitate and inhibit action on environmental issues and the promotion of more sustainable lifestyles (e.g. compensatory beliefs and moral licensing). This includes studying the interface between business/industry operations and the public.
EUROfusion's mission is to pave the way for fusion power reactors. To do so, the consortium funds the research of its 30 members on the basis of the "European Roadmap to the Realisation of Fusion Energy" as a joint programme within Euratom Horizon 2020. I currently co-lead part of the social and economic studies (SES) research package, which is seeking to learn more about the social acceptance of fusion technology and research.
Through this Innovate UK funded project, the University of Surrey is working in partnership with MyGlobalHome to trial and demonstrate a state-of-the-art modular, smart home concept on the University campus. In addition to providing accommodation for our staff and students, the MyGlobalHome development provides the University with a set of physical ‘Living Labs’, where we can work collaboratively to better understand and shape the future of Urban Living.
Through the HEIF funded project, we are seeking to promote collaboration between students, academics, staff, community partners and other stakeholders to apply current research and innovation to address real-world issues using the university campus and surrounding Surrey communities as a test-bed.
The transition towards a sustainable low carbon economy is fraught with multiple challenges. The BMBF research group 'STEEP-CarbonTrans' (of which I am a member) utilizes a comprehensive social-technical-economical-ecological-political (STEEP) approach to investigate how a raw materials transition in the Germany industry could look like, which alternative raw materials could be utilized and what the consequences for the energy and raw material systems would be.
Indicators of esteem
Associate Editor of the Journal of Applied Social Psychology
Co-Lead of British Environmental Psychology Society (BrEPS)
Postgraduate research supervision
PGR, School of Psychology
New Approaches to Utilize Responsive Environments (NATURE) (w/ Prof. Birgitta Gatersleben)
PGR, School of Hospitality and Tourism Management
Understanding and measuring the impact of transformational holiday experiences on the subsequent adoption of pro-environmental and conservation behaviours (w/ Dr Christy Hehir)
I teach on the BSc (Hons) Psychology course.
I contribute to the PSY3109: Social Understanding of Science and Technology (SUST) module.
I teach on the following courses:
I contribute to the following modules:
- PSYM013: Social Change and Influence
- PSYM117: Social Understanding of Science and Technology (SUST)
- PSYM067: The Psychology of Sustainable Development
Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) involves trapping carbon dioxide (CO2) from power generation and heavy industrial processes and directing it into long-term geological storage (e.g., in depleted oil fields or saline aquifers). In doing so, CCS could facilitate global carbon abatement efforts. Yet, it remains controversial with high-profile public opposition to particular CCS developments. For instrumental, normative and substantive reasons, it is increasingly recognised that public acceptance of CCS as a vital precondition for its commercial-scale rollout. While much is known about factors influencing public support for CCS, relatively few cross-national studies have so far been undertaken. Here, we present findings from a large-scale international experimental study of public perceptions of CCS, to examine how individual, geographical and informational factors influence support for CCS. In particular, we compare the lens through which CCS is seen – as a ‘techno-fix’ climate change solution, as reusing a waste product (through Carbon Dioxide Utilisation [CDU]), or as part of a systemic approach to climate change mitigation. Pairing CCS with CDU led to higher support for CCS, although information frames interacted with national and individual-level factors. Depending on which CCS lens is chosen, different groups will be more or less likely to support CCS implementation. As with other issues, targeting CCS information to audience values is likely to be more effective than untargeted communication. Our findings also show mentioning (modest) costs of deploying CCS can lead to lower support. Discussing CCS costs should be done in the context of costs of broader energy system transformation and of not mitigating climate change so that the public can deliberate over the relative risks and benefits of CCS and alternatives in the context of broader sustainability pathways.
Indonesian forest and peat fires have become global concern. Not only the fires have caused regional environmental and humanitarian crises, they also have exacerbated global climate change. Radical and rapid land use change couple with irresponsible practice of clearing land through burning are key contributing factors. In response, the Indonesian government issued a strict ban on the practice. While this policy outcome continues to shortfall, it implicates traditional farmers whose subsistence depends on such a practice. This reality necessitates effort to develop a more nuanced and targeted intervention. Thus, this study examines individual's intention to clear land using fire. We surveyed 151 Indonesian traditional farmers based on the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB), the Norm Activation Model (NAM) and past behavior. We identified the TPB, which is augmented by the past behavior and awareness of consequences, as the optimal model for explaining variance in the intention. Implications for developing more effective educational campaigns are discussed.
The public acceptability of emerging industrial technologies can affect their chances of commercial success. In large, demographically diverse samples from the United Kingdom (N = 438) and Germany (N = 390), we show for the first time the stigmatizing impact that the proposed use of depleted uranium (DU) as a tritium fuel storage option for nuclear fusion has upon public attitudes towards nuclear fusion. Participants’ attitudes towards nuclear fusion in both cohorts were assessed at four time points within an online questionnaire-based survey: pre-information about nuclear fusion (Time 1); post-information about fusion (Time 2); pre-information about DU (Time 3); and post-information about DU (Time 4). Attitudes towards nuclear fusion were generally more positive in the UK; however, both the UK and German cohorts showed a similar ‘flip-flop’ pattern in opinions over time. Specifically, an initial improvement in attitudes (Time 1 – Time 2), which was taken as evidence of the value of delineating nuclear fusion from nuclear fission, was followed by a significant downturn (Time 2 – Time 3) upon the announcement that DU would be involved in fuel-storage. This downturn in attitudes was tied to participants’ initial negative cognitive and affective evaluations of DU. The stigmatizing impact was found to partially reverse (Time 3 – Time 4) following the provision of information about the nature and purpose of DU within fusion. The study findings have clear implications for public engagement and communication efforts relating to current and future nuclear fusion demonstration projects.
power generators into national electricity networks. Public perceptions of emerging technologies are known to affect the likelihood of their commercial success; however, there is a paucity of research into the nature and antecedents of lay-public perceptions of grid-scale ESTs. We report on the findings of an online survey distributed to a diverse sample of the UK (N=1,044) designed to address this gap. The focus was on four grid-scale options (i.e. pumped hydro storage, compressed air energy storage, flywheels and lithium-ion batteries). Broadly, respondents were favourable to all technologies, although there was a preference for pumped hydro storage. Regression analysis revealed that intentions to support ESTs were positively predicted by attitudes, positive affect, perceived benefits, trust in developers, self-claimed awareness of ESTs and a belief that financial expenditure on the technology is warranted. Pro-ecological values were a negative predictor. Possible explanations for and implications of the findings are discussed
This study contributes to conflicting knowledge on contextual spillover effects from the workplace to the home setting (i.e. knock-on effects of one behaviour to another). A social marketing intervention was staged in a canteen in which red meat meals were replaced with white meat and plant-based alternatives, together with an information campaign. Thirteen employees were interviewed twice (pre- and post-intervention totalling 26 interviews). The findings indicated a two-way pathway framework (for positive and lack of spillover) which is supported by a range of factors. The findings allowed the grouping of factors into facilitators and barriers of contextual spillover and a three-dimensional typology. Overall, the findings showed that a social marketing intervention in a workplace can lead to sustainable food consumption at home. These effects are influenced by barriers and facilitators which can lead to the manifestation of other types of behaviour or a lack thereof. Resulting practical implications are discussed.
Grid-scale electrical energy storage technologies (GESTs) – like compressed air energy storage (CAES), flywheels, lithium ion batteries, and pumped hydro storage – will play a key role in the decarbonisation of national electricity systems. While the public acceptability of energy infrastructure is important, little is known about public attitudes towards GESTs. This study presents the findings of an online survey (N = 2058), based upon the Comprehensive Technology Acceptance Framework, designed to provide insight into the nature of public attitudes towards GEST deployment in two Western industrialised nations, Canada (n = 1014) and the United Kingdom (n = 1044). We show here that public attitudes towards GESTs are positive in both countries. Participants showed a relative preference for pumped hydro (37–40% favoured this option) versus batteries (23–25%), compressed air (13–17%), flywheels (14%), or none (8–10%). Structural equation modelling was used to identify the predictors of general attitudes towards GEST deployment. General attitudes were directly predicted by positive and negative affect, perceived risks and benefits, and trust in developers. We also show that trust in developers and environmental worldviews are significant mediated predictors of general attitudes, and that our overall model of general attitudes was comparable within both countries. The findings hold implications for the design and delivery of public engagement and communication programmes pertaining to GESTs. They confirm the need to employ trusted communicators, reflect the potential value to using environmentally-framed messaging, and advocate in favour of approaches that both respond to the genuine concerns of citizens and are designed to promote more informed public discourse about their inclusion (or exclusion) in national electricity networks.
•Study investigates public attitudes towards fusion in four European countries.•Attitudes towards fusion found to be generally favourable, particularly in Finland.•Impact of information provision on attitudes is shaped by existing attitudes.•Attitudes in Finland more belief-based; attitudes in Austria more affect-based.•Results have implications for public communication and engagement practices. The aim of the study was to examine the nature and antecedents of public attitudes towards fusion in Europe. Data were collected using an online information-choice style questionnaire distributed to diverse samples from Finland (n = 849), Austria (n = 830), Spain (n = 872) and the UK (n = 849). Participants received general information about fusion energy, and specific information about some anticipated consequences associated with investment in fusion that they were required to evaluate (i.e. a consequence evaluation task). The study aimed to: (1) gauge participants’ assessment of fusion following the general information; (2) investigate any change in attitudes following the consequence evaluation task; and (3) use multiple regression analysis to model the psychological antecedents of participants’ attitudes following the consequence evaluation task. The modelling was informed by existing psychological models of technology acceptance. Results showed that attitudes towards fusion were generally favourable: Finnish participants were most favourable, followed by the British and Spanish participants, and finally the Austrian participants. Participation in a consequence evaluation task had only a small effect on participants’ attitudes, with the extent of any change correlated with their initial attitudes. Analysis of the Finnish (most favourable) and Austrian (least favourable) participants revealed qualitative differences in the make-up of their attitudes. While Finnish attitudes were more belief-based, Austrian attitudes were more affect-based. The findings confirm that public attitudes towards fusion differ across Europe and that programmes of public engagement within different countries should vary to reflect these differences.
Environmentally and ethically conscious food purchasing has traction with British consumers. We examined how broad environmental worldviews related to shoppers’ ratings of the importance of various shopping criteria, including recognition of eco-labels, by surveying 502 shoppers from the city of Sheffield, England. Environmental worldviews were measured using the New Ecological Paradigm (NEP) scale. Responses to the scale split into two dimensions reflecting the scale’s origins: the Dominant Social Paradigm (DSP) and NEP subscales. Subscription to the NEP (ecocentric values) was associated with greater importance ratings of nutrition & health, animal welfare, the environment, Fairtrade, seasonal, local and organic criteria. Subscription to the DSP (anthropocentric values) was associated with greater importance ratings of quality, taste, safety, price and convenience criteria. Notably, subscription to DSP values was the only predictor of eco-label recognition score in a multivariate model. These results indicate that the NEP scale should be considered as two subscales. The results suggest that campaigns to increase consumers’ environmental awareness in order to encourage environmentally driven food shopping are likely to motivate only consumers disenchanted with technological and anthropocentric development.
With growing drives towards greater sustainability within the retail sector and growing requirement to conform to existing and emerging legislation, companies from ostensibly disparate sectors face the common challenge of encouraging the reduced consumption of saleable products, while simultaneously maintaining financial prosperity. Initially focused on knowledge exchange between the energy and water utilities and fashion retailers, TRANSFER (Trading Approaches to Nurturing Sustainable consumption in Fashion and Energy Retail) is now working together with a diverse group of large and SME (small- and medium-sized enterprises) retailers from a number of sectors, with the aim of successfully addressing this paradox. Combining the experiences of our commercial partners with academic expertise from a team of psychologists, fashion and management experts from the University of Sheffield and University of the Arts, London, TRANSFER is also investigating how efforts to promote sustainable consumption within retail are received and responded to by consumers. In fulfilling the project aims we hope to foster a more complete understanding of how retail sector initiatives can be successfully designed and implemented in order to have a positive impact on both retailers and their customers. This article provides a summary of the TRANSFER ‘Making it Real’ installation, held at Trinity Leeds shopping centre, (February 2015). This innovative, interactive exhibition was conceived of and developed upon the basis of discussions held with TRANSFER partners at a commercial partner workshop held in April 2014. TRANSFER is a knowledge exchange project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Retail Sector Initiative 2013 (ES/L005204/1).
Spillover occurs when one environmentally sustainable behavior leads to another, often initiated by a behavior change intervention. A number of studies have investigated positive and negative spillover effects, but empirical evidence is mixed, showing evidence for both positive and negative spillover effects, and lack of spillover altogether. Environmental identity has been identified as an influential factor for spillover effects. Building on identity process theory the current framework proposes that positive, negative, and a lack of spillover are determined by perceived threat of initial behavior and identity process mechanisms evaluating the behavior. It is proposed, that an environmental behavior change intervention may threaten one's existing identities, leading to either (a) integration, (b) compartmentalization, or (c) conflict between one's environmental identity and non-environmental identities. Initial evidence for the proposed framework is based on a field intervention which included a meat reduction programme in a canteen of a medium size private sector company. Semi-structured interviews and an explorative visualization method that aimed at assessing identity change were implemented with thirteen employees (i.e., intervention participants) before and after the intervention. The qualitative data was analyzed by using thematic analysis via NVivo12. Results of the visualization task and interview method provided initial evidence of direct and indirect positive contextual spillover effects, with comparatively less evidence a lack of spillover and a relative absence of reported negative spillover. This paper provides a novel theoretical approach, centered on identity process theory to enhance understanding of positive spillover, negative spillover, and the lack of spillover.
Carbon Dioxide Utilisation (CDU) technologies convert Carbon Dioxide (CO2) into carbon-based products. CDU technologies are viewed as a means of helping to address climate change while creating commodities that can be sold to generate financial revenue. While technical research and development into CDU options is accelerating, at present there has been little research into public acceptance of the technology. The current study presents the findings of a series of 28 exploratory interviews conducted with lay people in the United Kingdom and Germany. The results show that awareness of CDU is currently very low in both countries but that there is tentative support for the concept. This support is, however, caveated by considerations of the techno-economic feasibility of the technology and the societal consequences that might result from investment. While the thematic content of discussions was similar in both countries, where appropriate any notable differences are outlined and discussed. In addition to providing fresh insight into the emerging nature of public perceptions and acceptance of CDU, it is reasoned that the findings of this research could help to benefit the design of communication materials intended to engage lay-publics in debate about the nature and purpose of CDU technologies.
Trials of technologies designed to promote residential demand-side energy management (DSM) have found aggregate levels of load-shifting behaviour and curtailment in energy use. These aggregate data, however, mask considerable differences in people's engagement in DSM at an individual household level. We present the findings of a quantitative exploration of people's intentions to use a home energy management system (HEMS) for residential DSM in the United Kingdom. The technology acceptance model (TAM) was used in conjunction with constructs measuring psychological empowerment and environmental attitudes to explore participants' acceptance of a HEMS to facilitate load-shifting. Findings from a mediation analysis showed perceptions of the usefulness of the HEMS and its ease of use were important predictors of people's intentions to use one. They also highlight a potential conflict between an individual's home energy consumption goals and national DSM goals. The implications of these findings for understanding end-user acceptance of HEMS are discussed. We conclude that seeking opportunities to promote shared, internalised goals for residential DSM may be an avenue for increasing the uptake and use of technologies designed to enable load-shifting (and other energy conservation behaviours) among end-users.
Scholars differ in the extent to which they regard the “yuck factor” as an important predictor of sustainable consumption decisions. In the present decision experiment we tested whether people’s disgust traits predicted relative willingness-to-pay (WTP) for sustainable product alternatives, including atypically-shaped fruit and vegetables; insect-based food products; and medicines/drinks with reclaimed ingredients from sewage. In a community sample of 510 participants (255 women), using path analyses we examined the extent to which effects of disgust traits on WTP were mediated by cognitive appraisals of perceived taste, health risk, naturalness, visual appeal, and nutritional/medicinal value. Further, we assessed whether these effects were moderated by the tendency to regulate disgust using reappraisal and suppression techniques. Across all product categories, when controlling for important covariates such as pro-environmental attitudes, we found a significant negative effect of trait disgust propensity on WTP. In total, a 1 SD increase in participants’ disgust propensity scores predicted between 6% and 11% decrease in WTP. Appraisals of perceived naturalness, taste, health risk, and visual appeal significantly mediated these effects, differing in importance across the product categories, and explaining approximately half of the total effect of disgust propensity on WTP. Little-to-no support was found for moderation of effects by trait reappraisal or suppression. Individual differences in disgust are likely to be a barrier for certain viable sustainable alternatives to prototypical products. Marketing interventions targeting consumer appraisals, including in particular the perceived naturalness and taste, of these kinds of products may be effective.