Dr Kayleigh Wyles
My passion for the natural environment (especially marine environments) has long been engrained in both my professional and personal life. I’m interested in the relationship between humans and the natural world, which is reflected in both my research and teaching. After completing my PhD at the University of Plymouth combining Environmental Psychology with Marine Biology and a post-doctorate position at Plymouth Marine Laboratory, I joined Surrey in 2016 as a lecturer in Environmental Psychology.
Areas of specialism
Connectedness to Nature;
Litter (marine plastics)
University roles and responsibilities
- Year 1 Tutor (BSc Psychology Programme)
- Co-ordinate the Academic Tutorial Programme
- Personal Tutor
- Visiting Tutor
- Athena Swan Committee
Affiliations and memberships
Are global food packaging brands really committed to ditching single-use plastic?
Environmental Psychology focuses on the relationship between people and their physical environment. This encompasses two key aspects: 1) the influence the environment has on individuals (in terms of experiences, behaviour and well-being); and 2) 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). Across 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, Ecuador, Norway, USA, Chile, South Korea, and Sweden).
The Influence of the Environment on People
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.
The Influence People have on the Environment
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 working with a range of stakeholders, from NGOs to 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)
OLA: Ocean LitterAcy Project is a multi-disciplinary GCRF funded project (2018-20). Working with colleagues from the University of Sao Paulo & Federal University of ABC in Brazil, this project proposal examines how citizen science, where volunteers collect scientific data such as recording marine litter, can be used to empower and encourage societal change regarding waste management.
As well as organising the Academic Tutorials for the Year 1 students, I contribute to the following modules:
PSY3072 - Key Questions in Environmental Psychology
PSY3095 - General Psychology
PSY3065 - Dissertation for the BSc programme
PSYM137 - Key Questions in Environmental Psychology
PSYM067 - The Psychology of Sustainable Development
PSYM034 - Dissertation for the MSc programme.
Postgraduate research supervision
Christopher Wiles (F/T Psychology Dept.): Can virtual reality natural environments be used to manage the symptoms of clinical depression? [working title]. School-funded PhD Studentship. October 2017-in progress (DoS)
Mark Newman (F/T Psychology Dept.): Virtual reality and restorative natural environments [working title]. Self-funded. October 2017-in progress (2nd Supervisor)
Christy E. Hehir (F/T Tourism Dept.): Beyond Good Intentions: Wildlife Tourism as a Driver of Emotion and Philanthropic Behaviour Change. ESRC PhD Studentship. October 2016- in progress (2nd Supervisor)
Pablo Pereira-Doel (F/T Tourism Dept.): Persuasive communication: an experiment on hotel guests’ values, inconvenience and smart water-saving technology. October 2017- in progress (2nd Supervisor)
humans, for example through overfishing and poor waste management. We investigated
two questions. First, does a leisure visit to an aquarium improve visitor attitudes
and intentions towards marine sustainability, specifically regarding overfishing and
pollution? Second, does an information booklet handed out in addition to the visit
have additional measurable impact? Aquarium visitors (n = 104) completed a questionnaire
on marine sustainability attitudes and behavioral intentions before and after
their visit. Half of the visitors also were given informational materials that offered
behavioral solutions to the problem of overfishing. The aquarium visit significantly
improved visitors? overall attitudes and intentions. The information booklet additionally
improved intentions significantly, but not attitudes. These findings show that a
visit to an aquarium can help individuals develop what we term a marine mindset,
a state of readiness to address marine sustainability issues. Implications, limitations,
and ideas for further research are discussed.
environmental concern (Galgani et al., 2010). Found throughout the oceans, from the poles to the equator
and from the shoreline to the deep sea, impacts of this debris on the environment and wildlife is well
recorded. For example, rubbish items can have lethal and sub-??lethal effects on marine dwelling organisms,
through processes such as ingestion, entanglement, and chemical contamination from eating those
materials (Gall and Thompson, 2015). Whilst the research examining the distribution, abundance, and
impacts of litter on the environment and its inhabitants is ever growing, it is important to recognise the
human dimension of this problem. Humans are unquestionably the source of the problem; optimistically,
we are also the solution, but an often overlooked aspect is that we too are also impacted by marine litter.
Here, this short article will briefly overview the impact litter has on individuals, the psychological value of
doing something about it, and why this is important when trying to address this global and growing issue.
requires urgent action. Using psychological principles can motivate and implement change by connecting symptoms and
medium to high frequency on all subjects, with a medium to high degree of irreversibility. A novel translation of
these ecological impacts into ecosystem service impacts provides evidence that all ecosystem services are impacted to some extent by the presence of marine plastic, with a reduction in provision predicted for all except one. This reduction in ecosystem service provision is evidenced to have implications for human health and
wellbeing, linked particularly to fisheries, heritage and charismatic species, and recreation.
Many investigations into the determinants of hand hygiene (HH) behaviour have explored only individual predictors or were designed according to arguably overly simplistic models of behaviour. Consequently, important influences on HH behaviour, including habit and emotion, are sometimes neglected. This study is the first to employ the Theory of Interpersonal Behaviour as a comprehensive model for understanding the determinants of HH behaviour.
A self-report questionnaire was conducted with staff from two large UK veterinary referral practices. Participants (n = 75) reported their HH behaviour and responded to statements rating the importance of social norms, self-protection, patient protection, time pressures, access to equipment, habit and disgust, to their HH behaviour.
Regression analysis showed that, overall, determinants explained 46% of variance (p
Time constraints may be the most important influence on HH adherence among the determinants investigated. Future researchers should consider employing theoretical models to aid a more comprehensive understanding of the psychology underlying HH adherence and HH interventions.
this challenge. Fishing For Litter (FFL) is a voluntary clean-up scheme, where litter is collected as part of routine
fishing operations. We surveyed fishers (n=97) and stakeholders (n=22) in the UK to investigate perceptions
of FFL, its strengths and weaknesses, and potential co-benefits of the scheme. Fishers reported being aware of
and concerned about the negative impacts of litter. Overall, FFL was evaluated very positively (7.85/10). In
addition, FFL fishers reported less environmentally harmful waste management behaviors both out at sea and in
other contexts than did non-FFL fishers. Fishers and stakeholders listed strengths and weaknesses of the scheme
and made suggestions for future changes. As well as directly helping to remove litter, this paper demonstrates
that clean-up schemes can make a contribution to addressing the underlying causes of marine pollution.
Examining the benefits of naturalness forms an important part of environmental psychology research, with exposure to naturalness associated with restoration and positive affective quality. But the work of this thesis shows that it is not always clear what is meant by naturalness. Study A (N = 243) revealed several elements of naturalness which cannot be explained by current research, suggesting more work is needed to examine what constitutes naturalness. An in-depth literature review of the operationalisation of naturalness in 95 papers emphasised this need, demonstrating: 1) the interchangeable use of terms for naturalness; 2) a reliance on dichotomous variables; 3) a lack of explicit definitions; and 4) a lack of distinction between perceived and ecological naturalness.
Addressing these gaps in the literature, a survey was used to develop a new conceptualisation of lay perceived naturalness. Respondents (N = 846) were asked what they thought made a place natural and inductive content analysis used to develop a theme structure to represent these. A card sort study (N = 23) was used to improve this structure. Sixteen themes and 138 subthemes summarised lay perceptions; serving to broaden the conceptualisation beyond that of current research. Some of the most frequently mentioned themes/subthemes reflected those of existing literature, including the absence of humans and their influence, and vegetation. Several novel themes/subthemes were identified (e.g. smells, touch, weather); of use in future research. Humans, their influence and things also formed part of the concept of naturalness, demonstrating the difficulty associated with pitching humanness against naturalness.
Quantitative analyses showed that various subthemes of lay perceived naturalness were perceived as restorative and of positive affective quality: including elements such as sounds, plants, and water being associated with relaxing environments; and an absence of humans being associated with perceived restoration. These form the basis of recommendations for environmental design.