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 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)


As well as organising the Academic Tutorials for the Year 1 students, I contribute to the following modules:

PSY3072 - Environmental Psychology for the BSc in Psychology

PSY3095 - General Psychology

PSY3065 - Dissertation for the BSc programme

PSYM066 - Key Questions in Environmental Psychology: People & Place

PSYM067 - The Psychology of Sustainable Development

PSYM034 - Dissertation for 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 the Nature Connections Research 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

Tuesdays 2-3pm & 4-5pm 

No appointment is needed at this time - please just turn up. You can also email me to arrange an appointment at another time if necessary.


Journal articles

  • Wyles K, White M, Hattam C, Pahl S, King H, Austen M. (2017) 'Are Some Natural Environments More Psychologically Beneficial Than Others? The Importance of Type and Quality on Connectedness to Nature and Psychological Restoration'. SAGE Publications Environment and Behavior,


    Exposure to nature can strengthen an individual’s sense of connectedness (i.e., emotional/cognitive bonds to the natural world) and enhance psychological restoration (e.g., feeling relaxed/refreshed). To date, there have been few large studies looking at the role that type and quality of natural environments may have on these outcomes. The present study used data from a large survey in England (sample analyzed = 4,515), which asked participants to recall a recent visit to nature. After controlling for covariates, respondents recalled greater connectedness to nature and restoration following visits to rural and coastal locations compared with urban green space, and to sites of higher environmental quality (operationalized by protected/designated area status, for example, nature reserves). A series of structural equation analyses provided evidence for a bidirectional association between connectedness and restoration. Consideration of the psychological benefits associated with different types and quality of environment has implications for human health, environmental management, and conservation.

  • Pahl S, Wyles K, Thompson R. (2017) 'Channelling passion for the ocean towards plastic pollution'. Nature Publishing Group Nature Human Behaviour, 1 (10), pp. 697-699.


    Plastic pollution is caused exclusively by humans. It poses growing global threats to both the ocean and society, and requires urgent action. Using psychological principles can motivate and implement change by connecting symptoms and sources.

  • Wyles K . (2017) 'The Human Dimension of Marine Litter: The Impacts on Us'. Field Studies Council Field Studies Journal,


    Marine litter, manufactured solid waste material that enters the marine environment, is a growing 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.

  • 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.


    The beneficial effects of blue environments have been well documented; however, we do not know how marine litter might modify these effects. Three studies adopted a picture-rating task to examine the influence of litter on preference, perceived restorative quality, and psychological impacts. Photographs varied the presence of marine litter (Study 1) and the type of litter (Studies 2 and 3). The influence of tide and the role of connectedness were also explored. Using both quantitative and qualitative methods, it was shown that litter can undermine the psychological benefits that the coast ordinarily provides, thus demonstrating that, in addition to environmental costs of marine litter, there are also costs to people. Litter stemming from the public had the most negative impact. This research extends our understanding of the psychological benefits from natural coastal environments and the threats to these benefits from abundant and increasing marine litter.

  • 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.
  • Ten Brink P, Wyles K, Pahl S, Hong S, Seager J, Hidalgo-Ruz V. (2015) 'Social Economic Aspects'. Food and Agriculture Organization of the U. N. Reports and studies - IMO/FAO/Unesco-IOC/WMO/IAEA/UN/UNEP Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP),


    This report provides an update and further assessment of the sources, fate and effects of microplastics in the marine environment, carried out by Working Group 40 (WG40) of GESAMP (The Joint Group of Experts on Scientific Aspects of Marine Protection). It follows publication of the first assessment report in this series in April 2015 (GESAMP 2015). The issue of marine plastic litter was raised during the inaugural meeting of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) in June 2014. Delegates from 160 countries adopted Resolution 1/6 on ‘Marine plastic debris and microplastics’ (Annex I). The resolution welcomed the work being undertaken by GESAMP on microplastics and requested the Executive Director of UNEP to carry out a study on marine plastics and microplastics. This was to be based on a combination of existing and new studies, including WG40. This provided the motivation for GESAMP to revise the original terms of reference to reflect both the request from UNEP to contribute to the UNEA study, and the key recommendations from the WG40 2015 report.

  • 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.


    Marine environments provide a range of important ecosystem goods and services. To ensure the sustainability of this environment, we require an integrated understanding of the activities taking place in coastal environments that takes into account the benefits to human visitors but also the risks to the environment. This paper presents two studies on the perceived risks and benefits associated with recreational visits to rocky shores in the UK and internationally. Marine experts and recreational users of the coast responded to questionnaires that explored the marine awareness and wellbeing effects of different activities on the visitor and, in turn, the perceived harmfulness of these activities to the environment. Two studies found that a visit to a rocky shore was seen to improve visitors' awareness regarding the marine environment as well as their wellbeing (with some activities being calming such as sunbathing and relaxing, and others exciting such as rock pooling). However, this was perceived to be at a cost to the environment, as some activities were noted to have detrimental effects on the habitat. Marine experts and coastal users gave very similar answers, as did British (Study 1) and international respondents (Study 2). Using an integrative approach, the perceived impacts on both the environment and visitor were then explored together. Walking and rock pooling were seen to provide considerable wellbeing benefits but had high negative impacts on the environment. In contrast, resource focussed activities such as fishing, bait collecting and crabbing were perceived as less important for visitor wellbeing yet also had negative environmental impacts. Using this integrative approach, this analysis begins to suggest priorities for management that benefits both the environment and the recreational users.

  • 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.


  • UNEP and GRID-Arendal . (2016) Marine Litter Vital Graphics.
  • Kershaw PJ. (2016) Marine plastic debris and microplastics – Global lessons and research to inspire action and guide policy change.
  • 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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