Friday, January 20, 2012

Psychology for a Better World: Strategies to Inspire Sustainability

About the book

Psychology for a Better World is for people who believe it is worth trying to make a world in which both our species and the ecological systems we are part of can flourish. The book is based on the latest research in psychology and is jam packed with action strategies. It offers new ways to think about how people interact in social settings, why we are tempted to stick with what we know, and how the same characteristics that currently keep us hooked into unsustainable practices can be used to move us forward. The final chapter is a guide to help you analyse what you are doing to contribute towards a better world, and how you can be more effective while simultaneously increasing your personal wellbeing.
Listen to Niki’s interview about Psychology for a Better World with Kim Hill on the Radio New Zealand website and her interview with Sustainable Simon on the 95bFM website.
About the author
Niki Harré is an associate professor at the University of Auckland where she has taught social and community psychology for twelve years. Her recent research projects have focused on sustainable communities and schools, positive youth development and political activism. In 2007 Niki edited, with Quentin Atkinson, the book Carbon Neutral by 2020: How New Zealanders Can Tackle Climate Change. Niki is an active member of the Pt Chevalier Transition Town.
Niki’s homepage and contact details
Niki's Blog about Psychology for a Better World
If you are interested in the ups and downs of publishing and promoting a book, check out my blog.
Summarising fascinating research and insights from social and positive psychology, Niki persuades us in a personable and convincing way to look more deeply at our motivations and strategies when advocating for improved social and environmental conditions. Our intuitive approaches of arguing more aggressively with our perceived opponents, and telling others how wrong they are, are often not effective ways to get lasting behavioural change. Instead Niki provides a wide range of evidence to show that boosting positive emotions, role modelling, understanding the power and dynamics of identity and moral context all need to be authentically applied if we are to be effective change agents. This involves looking at our own motivations very carefully, which can be uncomfortable, but which Niki admirably does herself throughout the book. This book provides an urgently needed example of using sound evidence from the social sciences, particularly psychology, to engage people more positively in environmental sustainability. It also has a broader applicability, providing insights on effective advocacy for other areas of social change, for instance health promotion.

Hugh Norriss, Mental Health Foundation, New Zealand
Psychology is the study of mind & behaviour and should therefore harbour essential information for anyone interested in how humans may be able to change in order to create a more sustainable society. Alas, little has been done to take full advantage of this and so Niki Harré’s new book is particularly welcome. A key argument of her crisp and lucid discussion is the need to drag environmental issues from the conventional into the moral domain for the next generation. Harré manages to navigate the complexities of moral psychology with admirable ease and insightful purpose – balancing the objective of scientifically informed political advocacy with her own struggles to be the change she wants to see in the world. This book should inspire.

Thomas Suddendorf, Professor, University of Queensland, Australia
A sensational book by a visionary psychologist and thinker. You are a national treasure, Niki. Keep up the inspiration.

Pam Corkery
Congratulations on your fabulous new book which I read, thanks to you, as a free PDF. It is so wonderful to see members of the psychology community applying their knowledge and insights as you do in order to make a positive difference at this dangerous point human history.

John F. Schumaker, Author of In Search of Happiness: Understanding an Endangered State of Mind
Niki Harré is a highly regarded academic social psychologist and a sustainability advocate. Her book applies the latest psychological research to understand the dilemmas sustainability advocates and activists face and gives sound advice on how to grasp opportunities for change. Her account of the role identity plays in Chapter 4 is simply magnificent! This chapter makes the task of building a workable synthesis look easy. But identity is not only one of the most important human motivators but also one of the most vague and confusing areas of the social sciences. Niki offers a compelling and highly accessible analysis of this difficult territory, putting together in Part One a hugely impressive review of all the relevant work and the latest findings. Part Two is then an original and thoughtful application of the action principles she deduces from the research. Anyone interested in understanding the wellsprings and implications of belonging, action and affiliation must read this chapter.

Margaret Wetherell, Emeritus Professor in Social Psychology at the Open University, UK
Psychology for a Better World is really easy and enjoyable to read and offers so much insight and resources and depth. Thank you so much for putting it in the world, it is a brilliant resource.

Maya Nova, Mindbalance
Psychology for a Better World: Strategies to inspire sustainability is a labour of passion that carries the reader all the way through to the end. It is largely targeting sustainability advocates and those who have strong inclinations towards a more sustainable world. Dr Niki Harré draws on different approaches to sustainability and shows which ones work best and then explains why. As you turn the pages, you will be exposed to a variety of issues and concepts from identity, intention, and morality to copying and the long lasting benefits of positive emotions. It is well researched, accessible, easy to read, and packed with case studies and practical examples. The most important message? If sustainability is to work, it needs to become a way of life. This book tells you how. If you believe in a better world or are flirting with sustainability, this may be the addition your library is waiting for.

Tomas Pernecky, Ph.D, School of Hospitality and Tourism, AUT University, New Zealand
Self-help Guide for Sustainability Advocates
The final chapter of Psychology for a Better World brings together the strategies for change discussed in the book, and provides worksheets to enable you to decide where to put your energy. You can download the worksheets from the link below. Please note that they are designed to be used in conjunction with the book.