For a healthier planet: Climate activism must be rewarded
"People who try to do the right thing for the environment such as vegans, 'Zero Wasters' or activists are often disliked. People tend to see them as preachy, militant and annoying", says Jana Köhler, doctoral candidate at the Vienna Doctoral School in Cognition, Behaviour and Neuroscience (VDS CoBeNe).
To promote individual behaviour as an important component of climate action, these behaviours need to be socially rewarded and not punished. "I am interested to see whether these negative stereotypes keep others from doing the same behaviours because they do not want to be seen in the same negative way," Jana Köhler explains.
15 Vienna Doctoral Schools. Since 2020.
Since 2020, the Vienna Doctoral Schools have provided excellent services, including team supervision and various funding possibilities, to enable competitive research at an international scale. In the doctoral schools, doctoral candidates enjoy an active and inspiring research environment, a vibrant doctoral community and many ways to connect with peers from home and abroad at both social and professional levels.
The "Environmental Appeal"
The young scientist studies the impact of social punishments on environmentalists’ motivation and wellbeing as well as the appeal of environmentally- and climate-friendly behaviour to the general public.
"We can only have a healthy planet and healthy people if we start protecting the climate and the environment," Jana Köhler emphasises. By investigating human experiences and behaviours, she is making important contributions to her discipline "Environmental Psychology," which falls under the behavioural sciences.
A varied working day
"The nice thing about my research is that there is not much of a daily routine," Köhler says. She has a very diverse set of tasks: "So when I am doing data collection, I do in-person or virtual interviews with research participants and when I am doing data analysis, I run a lot of statistical tests. And then I am preparing my results for scientific conferences, which means that I am creating posters and presentations to communicate my research."
For a fairer and healthier planet
For one of her studies, she interviews vegans and those who refuse to fly for the sake of the environment. "Both of those groups experience conflict and fighting with their family as a consequence of their behaviour," Köhler says. "However, over time most of them overcome these conflicts because they develop understanding and empathy for each other." That makes her hopeful that we can stand united to create a more just and healthier planet for all.
"I chose to do my PhD at the University of Vienna because it is one of the few European Universities that has an Environmental Psychology research group. My supervisors are internationally renowned with unique expertise in their field. We have since created a group with a diverse expertise in a nurturing working environment," Köhler says.