Thijs Bouman

Associate Professor in Environmental Psychology, University of Groningen

General research interest:

Through my research I aim to understand individuals’ responses to global crises. For instance, “Why do some people engage in sustainable action, and others not?” and “Why is climate action still too limited and inconsistent to reach the climate targets set?“. In particular, I  focus the role basic human values play in sustainability transitions. Basic human values reflect where an individual, group, and/or society generally cares about, and provides a relevant framework for mapping people’s motivations. Interestingly, in my research I find that there are many misperceptions about values. These misperceptions may have detrimental consequences for sustainability transitions, but also offer key opportunities to intervene. My research focuses on understanding and correcting these misperceptions, and the influences this has on citizens, policy and decision makers.  

Research line 1: Perceived group values and sustainability transitions

One research line I am currently working on focuses on personal and (perceived) group values. What values do individuals strongly endorse, what values do individuals perceive others to endorse, and how do such values influence individuals’ attitudes and behaviours? In general, I find that people often misperceive others to be primarily self-interested, while in fact most people indicate to prioritize collective interests over self-interest. These misperceptions may discourage individuals from taking sustainable action, and could negatively affect their wellbeing by not feeling supported.

Research line 2: The value of the energy transition

My second line of research focuses on the interaction between individuals and technology, particularly within the energy domain. How can we better understand and consider the preferences and motivations of people within energy systems, how can we adjust technological innovations to user preferences and motivations, and can we give people a more active role within energy systems and the decision making about energy systems? Values provide a useful framework for mapping individual preferences and motivations, and tailoring technologies and solutions to (collective) values may enhance their acceptance and adoption, and their effective and continued use.