Dr Sabine Pahl
Associate Professor (Reader) in Psychology
School of Psychology (Faculty of Health & Human Sciences)
Research Committee (School of Psychology)
Internationalisation Committee (Faculty of Science and Technology)
Member of the Management Group Institute for Sustainability Solutions (ISSR)
since 2012 Reader / Associate Professor in Psychology, Plymouth University, UK
2006-2012 Lecturer in Psychology, University of Plymouth, UK
2003-2006 Lecturer in Psychology, University of Erlangen, Germany
2002-2003 ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Sheffield, UK
2002 PhD in Psychology, University of Sheffield, UK
1999 Diplom in Psychology, University of Bremen, Germany
1998 MSc in Social and Applied Psychology, University of Kent, UK
UK Society for Behavioural Medicine (UKSBM)
European Social Cognition Network (ESCON)
Psychological Society (BPS); BPS Cognitive Section; BPS Social Section
International Social Cognition Network (ISCON)
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Psychologie (DGPs); Fachgruppe Umweltpsychologie
European Association for Decision Making (EADM)
European Association of Experimental Social Psychology (EAESP)
Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP)
International Association for People-Environment Studies (IAPS)
IAPS Restorative Environments Network
Roles on external bodies
Honorary Associate Professor, University of Exeter since 2015
Member of the ESRC Peer Review College since 2015
Member of GESAMP Working Group 40 since 2015
Advisory Panel member for EPSRC-funded TEDDINET since 2014
Secretary of the International Association of Applied Psychology (http://www.iaapsy.org/) Environmental Division since 2014
Member of the Editorial Board for Environment & Behaviour since 2014
Member of the International Energy Agency’s DSM task 24 Behaviour Change since 2013
Affiliate Member of the Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning, University of British Columbia, Canada. since 2011
Affiliate Member of the European Centre for Environment and Human Health, Exeter Medical School since 2010
Visiting Lecturer, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada March 2011
Please e-mail to arrange a meeting
Keywords: Social Cognition; self-positivity biases (e.g. unrealistic optimism, the better-than-average effect); behaviour change; psychology of sustainability; restorative effects of natural environments.
Research focus. I am a Social Psychologist covering basic and applied research. My applied work focuses on attitudes and behaviour change, particularly in the area of energy efficiency and protecting marine environments. Other applied work examines restorative effects of natural environments including the use of natural environments in healthcare. My basic research is in social cognition,e.g., construal level and memory and self-other biases such as unrealistic optimism.
Grants & Publications. I’ve been involved in attracting research funding in excess of £7m since 2010 (approx. £2m as Principal Investigator) from EPSRC,ESRC, DEFRA, DECC, FP7 and H2020. Peer-review publications since 2010 include papers in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, Environment & Behavior,Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin and Psychology & Health.
Impact. Our role in MARLISCO was to evaluate science-in-society activities regarding marine litter in 14 European countries plus Turkey, summarised in a guide for influencing behaviour. Within the eViz-project we have run field studies with the Eden Project / DECC and Plymouth City Council, and a >5,000 home trial run in collaboration with the Behavioural Insights Team. My former PhD student Kayleigh Wyles and I are the only two social scientists involved in the United Nations GESAMP Working Group 40 on microplastics, and the Phase 1 report contains our recommendation for more behavioural science. I was the lead convenor for two sessions (behaviour change and perceptions of climate change) at the UNFCC COP21 science conference in Paris in July 2015, which summarised the science to inform the COP 21 policy meeting in December that year.
Sustainability & Psychology group, see http://psychology.plymouth.ac.uk/research/working-groups/sustainability/
- Dr. Christine Boomsma, RF enerGAware http://www.plymouth.ac.uk/staff/gtboomsma
- Dr. Julie Goodhew RF Thermal Imaging http://www.plymouth.ac.uk/staff/jagoodhew
Research degrees awarded to supervised students
Current PhD students:
- Carolyn Arnold (Falmouth College; co-supervisor; F/T since Oct 2011): Storytelling as a paradigm for promoting pro-environmental behaviour
external PhDs examined:
Grants & contracts
Fuertes, A. et al. EnerGAware: Energy Game for Awareness of energy efficiency in social housing communities. Feb 2015 - Feb 2018, Plymouth work package 300k in €2m EU H2020 project.
Anderson, A. et al. (2015). Public perception of microbeads. ISSR small grant, Plymouth University, £2.5k.
Goodhew, J. et al. (2015). Solar gain visualised through thermal imaging. ISSR small grant, Plymouth University, £3k.
Pahl, S., de Wilde, P. et al. eViz – EnergyVisualisation for Carbon Reduction (2012-2016). EPSRC multi-centre grant with the Universities of Bath, Birmingham and Newcastle £1,876,000, with £1,125,000 to Plymouth. (Post docs Christine Boomsma and Julie Goodhew).
Thompson, R. C. & Pahl, S. (2012-2015). Marine Litter in European Seas: Social Awareness and Co-Responsibility (MARLISCO). Plymouth Work Package £300k in £4,100,000 EU-FP7 Grant. (Post doc Bonny Hartley and Research Assistant Matthew Holland).
White, M. P., Pahl, S. & Depledge, M (2010-2016). The restorative potential of sub-aquatic environments. Studentship awarded by NMA: Deborah Cracknell.
Thompson, R. C. & Pahl, S. (2014). Evaluation of Fishing for Litter programme (variation). DEFRA: 19k. Research Assistant: Kayleigh Wyles then Lauren Carroll.
Pahl, S. & Carroll, L. (2013). SmallEvaluation of Stepping Stones programme. Plymouth City Council, SteppingStones: 2.5k. RA: Lauren Carroll.
Attrill, M., Pahl, S., Thompson, R. C. & Wyles, K. (2013). The benefits of engaging with the Marine Centre at Wembury Beach. University of Plymouth Community Research Award: £9k. Research Assistant: Lauren Carroll.
Goodhew, S., Pahl, S. & De Wilde, P. (2013). Thermal imaging intervention as part of Cornwall together. Eden Project, funding from DECC, £65k.
Pahl, S. & Thompson, R. (2010-13). Human Well-being and Habitat Threat in Marine Environments. ESRC/NERC Studentship: Kayleigh Wyles.
Pahl, S., White, M. P., Andrade, J. & May, J.(2010-13). Dental anxiety, nature exposure and virtual reality. (University of Plymouth: approx. £100k [postdoc Karin Tanja-Dijkstra]).
White, M. P., Pahl, S. & Depledge, M. (2010-13). Blue Gym: The health and well-being effects of blue space. (University ofPlymouth: approx. £120k [post doc Kat Ashbullby]).
Wyer, N., Pahl, S. & Perfect, T. (2010-13). Construal, processing style and memory for social events.(ESRC: £240k). RA: Jean Roper.
Depledge, M., Pahl, S. & Lilley, A.(2010-2013). Seeing is Believing. (European Centre for Environment and Human Health, PCMD [post doc WillStahl-Timmins])
White, M. P., Pahl, S. & Edworthy, J. (2009-12). Choice Architectures and Volunteering. UoP Faculty of Science PhD Studentship: Lauren Carroll.
Pahl, S. (2011). Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) Fellowship, British Columbia, Canada, March.
Pahl, S. (2011). International Networking Scheme University of Plymouth, for research visit to the University of British Columbia, March.
LeFroy,M., LeFroy, E., White, M. & Pahl, S. (2010). Surf to success / surfing for success. (Ecominds: 20k awarded to GB Boardriders CIC).
Butel, L., Pahl, S. & Memery, J. (2009-11). The psychology of giving to independent schools. Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Plymouth College (TechnologyStrategy Board: £81k).
Pahl, S. (2009-10). Optimism, pessimism and pro-environmental engagement. (Seale-HayneEducational Trust: £2k).
Pahl, S. & White, M. P. (2008-09). Predicting and improving satisfaction with a rewarding activity: Volunteering for the Samaritans. (University of Plymouth: £8k).
Pahl, S. (2006). Self-activation and betting behaviour. Dr. German Schweiger Spende: €1k.
Pahl, S. (2006-08). Role models, social comparison & gender: Effects on career aspirations of men and women. University of Erlangen: €9k.
Pahl, S. (2005-06). Linguistic norms and the focus effect in self-other comparisons. EAESP Postdoctoral Seedcorn Grant: €2k.
Pahl, S. (2002-03). ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship: £26k.
- Centre for Research in Brain, Cognition and Behaviour (CBCB)
Cracknell, D., White, M. P., Pahl, S., & Depledge, M. H. (2017). A preliminary investigation into the restorative potential of public aquaria exhibits: a UK student-based study. Landscape Research, 42(1), 18-32.
Pahl, S., & Wyles, K. J. (2017). The human dimension: how social and behavioural research methods can help address microplastics in the environment. Analytical Methods. DOI: 10.1039/c6ay02647h
Anderson, A. G., Grose, J., Pahl, S., Thompson, R. C., & Wyles, K. J. (2016). Microplastics in personal care products: Exploring perceptions of environmentalists, beauticians and students. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 113(1), 454-460. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2016.10.048
Fleming, L.E., Depledge, M., McDonough, N., White, M. P., Pahl, S., Austen,M., Goksoyr, A., Solo-Gabriele, H., Stegeman, J. J. (in press). The Oceans and Human Health. Chapter for the Oxford Encyclopedia of Environmental Science.
* Wyles, K. J., Pahl, S. & Thompson, R. C.T. (in press). What are the Benefits to the Volunteers? Comparing Beach Cleans to Other Coastal Activities. Environment & Behavior. doi: 10.1177/0013916516649412.
White MP, Pahl S, Wheeler BW, Fleming LEF & Depledge MH (2016). The'Blue Gym': What can blue space do for you and what can you do for blue space? JOURNAL OF THE MARINE BIOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION OF THE UNITED KINGDOM 96, (1) 5-12.
Veiga JM, Vlachogianni T, Pahl S, Thompson RC, Kopke K, Doyle TK,Hartley BL, Maes T, Orthodoxou DL & Loizidou XI (2016). Enhancing public awareness and promoting co-responsibility for marine litter in Europe: The challenge of MARLISCO. MARINE POLLUTION BULLETIN 102, (2) 309-315.
* Cracknell, D., Pahl, S., White, M. P., Nichols, W. J. & Depledge,M. (2015). Marine biota and psychological well-being: A preliminary examination of dose-response effects in an aquarium setting. Environment & Behavior (OnlineFirst).doi:10.1177/0013916515597512
* Wyles, K., Pahl, S., Thomas, K. & Thompson, R. C. (2015). Factors that can Undermine the Psychological Benefits of Coastal Environments: Exploring the Effect of Tidal State, Presence, and Type of Litter. Environment & Behaviour(OnlineFirst). doi: 10.1177/0013916515592177
Hartley, B. L., Thompson, R. C., & Pahl, S. (2015). Marine litter education boosts children’s understanding and self-reported actions. Marine Pollution Bulletin,90, 209-217. DOI:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2014.10.049
Baztan, J., Jorgensen, B., Vanderlinden, J.-P., Pahl, S., Thompson, R. C., Carrasco, A., Miguelez, A., Huck, T., Garrabou, J., Broglio, E., Chouinard, O., Surette, C., Soudant, P., Huvet, A., Galgani, F., Paul-Pont, I. (2015). Protected Shores Contaminated with Plastic: From Knowledge to Action. Chapt. 11 in Coastal Zones: Solutions for the 21st Century. Elsevier. doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-802748-6.00011-5
* Wyles, K. J., Pahl, S. & Thompson, R. C. (2014). Perceived risks and benefits of recreational visits to the marine environment: Integrating impacts on the environment and impacts on the visitor. Ocean & Coastal Management, 88, 53-63. Open access at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0964569113002330
Ashbullby, K. J., Pahl, S., White, M. P. & Webley, P. (2013). The beach as a setting for families' health promotion: A qualitative study with parents and children living in coastal regions in Southwest England, Health and Place, 23, 138-147.
* Wyles, K., Pahl, S., White,M., Morris, S., Snelling, D & Thompson, R. C. (2013). Towards a Marine Mindset: Visiting an aquarium can improve attitudes and intentions regarding marine sustainability. Visitor Studies, 16(1), 95-110.
White, M. P., Smith, A.,Humphries, K., Pahl, S., Snelling, D. & Depledge, M. (2010). Blue Space: The Importance of Water for Preference, Affect And Restorativeness Ratings Of Natural And Built Scenes. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 30, 482-493.
Boomsma, C., Pahl, S., Jones, R. V., & Fuertes, A.(2017). ‘Damp in bathroom. Damp in back room. It’s very depressing!’ exploringthe relationship between perceived housing problems, energy affordabilityconcerns, and health and well-being in UK social housing. Energy Policy, 106,382–393. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2017.04.011
Boomsma C, Goodhew J, Goodhew S & Pahl S (2016). Improving the visibility of energy use in home heating in England: Thermal images and the role of visual tailoring. Energy Research & Social Science 14, 111-121.
Jones RV, Fuertes A, Boomsma C & Pahl S (2016). Space heating preferences in UK social housing: A socio-technical household survey combined with building audits. Energy and Buildings 127, 382-398.
Boomsma C, Goodhew J, Pahl S & Jones RV (2016). The feasibility of saving energy in challenging organisational contexts: Testing energy visualisation in a social services office in the United Kingdom. Energy Research & Social Science 15, 58-74
Pahl, S., Goodhew, J., Boomsma, C. & Sheppard, S. R. J. (2016). The role of energy visualisation in addressing energy use: Insights from the eViz project. Frontiers in Psychology: Personality and Social Psychology, 7, 92. http://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00092
Goodhew, J., Pahl, S., Auburn, T. & Goodhew, S. (2015). Making heat visible: Promoting energy conservation behaviours through thermal imaging. Environment and Behaviour, 47(10), 1059-108. DOI: 10.1177/0013916514546218
This research was the featured discussion article in the first edition of Nature Energy in January 2016. Steg, L. (2016). Seeing heat saves energy. Nature Energy, 1, 1-2.
Environment & Health
White MP, Pahl S, Ashbullby KJ, Burton F & Depledge MH (2015). The Effects of Exercising in Different Natural Environments on Psycho-Physiological Outcomes in Post-Menopausal Women: A Simulation Study. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH AND PUBLIC HEALTH 12, (9) 11929-11953.
Jenkin, R., Frampton, I., White, M. P., Pahl, S. & Dix, N. (2015).Preliminary development of a new method for exploring the acceptability of playwork interventions with children: The Day Reconstruction Method – Child version (DRM-C). Journal of Playwork Practice, 2(2), 157-172.
Tanja-Dijkstra, K., Pahl, S., White, M. P., Andrade, J.,May, J., Stone, R. J., Bruce, M., Mills, I.,Auvray, M., Gabe, R., Moles, D. R. (2014). Can virtual nature improve patient experiences and memories of dental treatment? A study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials, 15, 90-99. http://www.trialsjournal.com/content/15/1/90
Tanja-Dijkstra, K., Pahl, S., White, M. P., Andrade, J., Qian, C.,Bruce, M., May, J. & Moles, D. R. (2014). Improving dental experiences byusing virtual reality distraction: A simulation study. PLOS ONE, 9,1-. http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0091276
White, M. P., Pahl, S.,Ashbullby, K., Herbert, S. & Depledge, M. H. (2013). Feelings of restoration from recent nature visits. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 35,40-51.
General Applied Psychology
Kenshole, A., Gallichan, D., Pahl, S. & Clibbens, J. (in press). Lifestyle Factors and Alzheimer’s Disease in People with Down Syndrome. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities.
Boomsma, C., Pahl, S., & Andrade, J. (2016). Imagining Change: An Integrative Approach toward Explaining the Motivational Role of Mental Imagery in Pro-environmental Behavior. Frontiers in Psychology, 7. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01780
Gibson, H., Stewart, I.,Pahl, S., and Stokes, A. (2016). A "Mental Models" approach to the communication of subsurface hydrology and hazards, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci.Discuss., doi:10.5194/hess-2015-542.
Pahl, S., Sheppard, S. R. J., Boomsma, C. & Groves, C. (2014).Perceptions of time in relation to climate change. Wiley InterdisciplinaryReviews (WIREs) Climate Change, 5, 375-388.
Pahl, S. & Bauer, J. (2013).Overcoming the Distance: Perspective Taking With Future Humans Improves Environmental Engagement. Environment and Behavior, 45(2), 155-169.
* Zlatev, M., Pahl, S. &White, M. P. (2010). Perceived risk and benefit for self and others as predictors of smokers' attitudes towards smoking restrictions. Psychology & Health, 25, 167-182.
White, M. P., Eiser, J. R., Harris, P. R. & Pahl, S. (2007). Who reaps the benefits, who bears the risks? Risk and benefit perceptions of mobile phone technology for different targets. Risk Analysis, 27, 741-753.
Pahl, S., Harris, P. R.,Todd, H. A. & Rutter, D. R. (2005). Comparative optimism for environmental risks. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 25, 1-11.
White, M. P., Pahl, S., Bühner,M. J. & Haye, A. (2003). Trust in risky messages: The role of prior attitudes. Risk Analysis, 23,717-726.
Wyer, N. A., Hollins, T. J., & Pahl, S. (2015). The hows and whys of face processing: Level of construal influences the holistic processing of human faces. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 144, 1037-1041.
Wyer, N. A., Hollins, T. J., Pahl, S. & Roper, J. (2015). The hows and whys of face memory: Level of construal influences the recognition of human faces. Frontiers in Psychology (Cognition), 6, 1524, doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01524
* Bertrams, A. & Pahl, S. (2014). Ego depletion after social interference. Psychology, 5, 1-5. http://www.scirp.org/journal/PaperInformation.aspx?paperID=41844#.U0bAxqJns6x
Pahl, S. (2012).Would I bet on beating you? Subtly increasing other-focus helps overcome egocentrism. Experimental Psychology, 59, 74-81. doi: 10.1027/1618-3169/a000128
* Carroll, L., White, M. P. & Pahl, S. (2011). The impact of excess choice on deferment of decisions to volunteer. Judgment and Decision Making, 6, 629-637.
Wyer, N., Perfect, T. &Pahl, S. (2010). Temporal distance and person memory: Thinking about the future changes memory for the past. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36, 805-816.
Pahl, S., Eiser, J. R. &White, M. P. (2009). Boundaries of Self-Positivity: The Effect of Comparison Focus in Self-Friend Comparisons. Journal of Social Psychology, 149, 413-424.
* Blüher, R. & Pahl, S. (2007). Der"mere exposure" Effekt und die Wahl von Produkten - Ein Experiment im Feld [Mere exposure and product choice - A field experiment]. Zeitschrift für Sozialpsychologie, 38,209-215.
Pahl, S.& Eiser, J. R. (2007). How malleable is positive bias for the self? The effects of judgmental focus, anchoring and accessibility. European Journal of Social Psychology, 37, 617-627.
Pahl, S. & Eiser, J. R.(2006). The focus effect and self-positivity in ratings of self-other similarity and difference. British Journal of Social Psychology, 45, 107-116.
Pahl, S. & Eiser, J. R.(2005). Valence, comparison focus and self-positivity biases: Does it matter whether people judge positive or negative traits? Experimental Psychology,52, 303-310.
Eiser, J.R., Pahl, S. & Prins, Y. R. A. (2001). Optimism, pessimism, and the direction of self-other comparisons. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 37, 77-84.
Other publications, edited books & reports
Baztan, J., Jorgensen, B., Pahl, S., Thompson, R. C. & Vanderlinden, J.-P. (Eds). Fate and impact of Microplastics in Marine Ecosystems: From the Coastline to the Open Sea. Elsevier (forthcoming).
Pahl, S., Anderson,A., Grose, J., Wyles, K. & Thompson, R. C. (forthcoming). Microplastics in cosmetics: Exploring the perceptions of environmentalists, beauticians and students. Proceedings from MICRO 2016.
Westerhoff, L.,Cote, S., Chu, A.-M., Sheppard, S. R. J., Burch, S. & Pahl, S.(forthcoming). Motivating energy efficiency retrofits through community-based thermal imaging: Implications for research and practice in BC. PICS White Paper.
Boomsma, C., Jones,R.V., Pahl, S., & Fuertes, A. (2016). Energy saving behaviours among social housing tenants: Exploring the relationship with dwelling characteristics, monetary concerns and psychological motivations. Proceedings from BEHAVE'16: 4th European conference on behaviour and energy efficiency. Coimbra,Portugal.
Hartley, B. L.,Holland, M., Pahl, S., & Thompson, R. C. (2015). Evaluation of specific educational and outreach activities related to marine litter. Deliverable D2.5 report. MARLISCO project. Marine Litter in European Seas: Social Awareness and Co-Responsibility.
Hartley, B.L., Holland, M., Pahl, S., Thompson, R. C. (2015). How to Communicate with
Stakeholders about Marine Litter – A Short Guide to Influencing Behavioural Change.
Plymouth, UK. Deliverable D2.6 report. MARLISCO project. Marine Litter in European Seas: Social Awareness and Co-Responsibility.
Vlachogianni, T., Veiga, J., Orthodoxou, D., Loizidou, X., Kopke, K.,Hartley, B., Pahl, S., Thompson, R., Garnacho, E., Maes, T., Roniotes, A., MIO-ECSDE, 2015. Project synthesis: ‘recommendations for science and society interactions: a case study from ML’ ‘Understanding the science-society nexus through the marine litter challenge: lessons learned & recommendations from the MARLISCO project’. Deliverable D6.6. MARLISCO project. Marine Litter in European Seas: Social Awareness and Co-Responsibility.
GESAMP (2015, IMO/FAO/UNESCO-IOC/UNIDO/WMO/IAEA/UN/UNEP Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection). Sources,fate and effects of microplastics in the marine environment - a global assessment. GESAMP Reports & Studies Series. Available from http://ec.europa.eu/environment/marine/good-environmental-status/descriptor-10/pdf/GESAMP_microplastics%20full%20study.pdf
Stone, B., Guest, R., Pahl, S., & Boomsma, C. (2014). Exploiting gaming technologies to visualise dynamic thermal qualities of a domestic dwelling: Technical and human factor challenges. Proceedings from BEHAVE’14, Oxford, UK.
Hartley, B. L., Pahl, S., & Thompson, R. T. (2013). Baseline Evaluation of stakeholder perceptions and attitudes towards issues surrounding marine litter. Deliverable D2.1 report. MARLISCO project. Marine Litter in Europe Seas: Social Awareness and CO-Responsibility.
Pahl, S., White, M. P. & Carroll, L. (2010). Volunteering for Samaritans. Report April 2010. University of Plymouth.
* Goodhew, J., Goodhew, S.,Auburn, T., de Wilde, P. & Pahl, S. (2009). A preliminary investigation of the potential for thermographic images to influence householders understanding of home energy consumption. In Dainty, S. (Ed.), ARCOM Conference 2009,Nottingham, UK, September, 971-979.
* denotes student as first author