Professor Nick Pidgeon

Professor Nick Pidgeon

Professor of Environmental Psychology, Director of the Understanding Risk Research Group

School of Psychology

Media commentator
Available for postgraduate supervision

I am Professor of Environmental Psychology and Director of the Understanding Risk Research Group within the School.

I work on risk, risk perception, and risk communication and as such my research is interdisciplinary at the interface of social psychology, environmental sciences and geography, and science and technology studies.

I am currently researching public responses to energy technologies, climate change risks, nanotechnologies and climate geoengineering.

I have in the past led numerous policy oriented projects on issues of public responses to environmental and technological risk issues and on ‘science in society’ for UK Government Departments, the Research Councils, the Royal Society, and Charities. I currently serve as a social sciences adviser to the UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and to the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

I was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the British Science Association in 2011, and an MBE in the 2014 Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to climate change awareness and energy security policy.

In 2006 I chaired a Parliamentary inquiry whose report ‘Is a Cross-Party Consensus on Climate Change Possible – or Desirable?’ recommended the setting up of the UK Climate Change Committee, an institutional innovation subsequently enacted in the 2008 Climate Change Act.

Undergraduate education

  • 1975 - 1979 Bachelor of Arts, First Class Joint Honours in Mathematics and Psychology, University of Keele. Subsidiary subjects: Computer Science; Philosophy of Natural Science (Distinction).

Postgraduate education

  • 1980 -1983 Doctorate of Philosophy in Psychology, University of Bristol. Title: Strategies and Heuristics in Individual Decision Making.

Honours and awards

  • MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to climate change awareness and energy security policy
  • 2011 Awarded Honorary Fellowship of the British Science Association
  • 2003 Awarded Fellowship of the Society for Risk Analysis International.

Professional memberships

  • British Psychological Society
  • Society for Risk Analysis (International)
  • Society for Social Studies of Science
  • member of the Department of Energy and Climate Change Community Representation Working Group for long-term disposal of the UK’s radioactive wastes (2015-2016)
  • Vice-Chair of the Social Sciences Expert Panel of the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Department for Energy and Climate Change (2012-2016)
  • member of the Science Advisory Group to the Chief Scientist at the Department for Energy and Climate Change (2010-2013).
  • member of the 2001 and 2008 Psychology Panels for the Research Assessment Exercise
  • member of the Royal Society Risk study group (1992) and nanotechnologies study group (2003/4).

Academic positions

  • 1999 - 2006 Professor of Environmental Sciences, and Director of the Centre for Environmental Risk, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia
  • 1995 - 1999 Senior Lecturer in Psychology, School of Psychology University of Wales Bangor
  • 1989 - 1995 Lecturer in Applied Psychology, Birkbeck College University of London
  • 1983 - 1988 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Departments of Civil Engineering, University of Bristol and Sociology University of Exeter.

Speaking engagements

Extensive. Mostly radio and printed media.

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I am currently fully bought out from undergraduate teaching. Ordinarily I contribute to Level 2 social psychology practicals, Level 3 projects and PS3415 (Environmental Psychology), and postgraduate methods teaching (qualitative and mixed-methods research).

Research in my group spans a number of broad topics under the headings of: Risk Perception and Communication; the Environment; Science, Technology and Public Policy; and Sustainability.

Current topics studied include:

  • public and stakeholder perceptions of climate change and energy futures
  • attitudes to sustainable energy systems and scenarios
  • energy biographies’ and energy use in everyday life
  • public engagement with and governance of climate engineering proposals
  • nanotechnology in society
  • perceptions of radiological risks (eg radon, nuclear power).

Funding

European Commission
M4Shale
May 2014 - April 2017 (with TNO Netherlands, University of Warwick, British Geological Survey and European partners)
EURO 2,999,649

Economic and Social Research Council (JPI Climate)
European Perceptions of Climate Change – Project Co-ordinators
January 2014 - December 2016 (with the Welsh School of Architecture, University of Stuttgart, University of Bergen, Symlog Paris, and the Climate Outreach Information Network)
EURO 1,200,000

Engineering and Physical Science Research Council
Opportunities and barriers to achieving transitions in UK energy and materials use - the role of publics, society and decision-makers
Jan 2015 - September 2018 (with Green Alliance, and the Universities of Leeds, Bath and Nottingham Trent)
£734,039

Engineering and Physical Science Research Council
UK Energy Research Centre Phase 3
April 2014 - May 2019 (with Imperial College and the Universities of Leeds, Strathclyde, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, UCL London, Oxford, Southampton, Sussex, Exeter, Edinburgh, Warwick, and Aberdeen)
£16,474,252

Economic and Social Research Council
Public perceptions of climate change in the aftermath of major national flooding
June 2014 - May 2015 (with the University of Nottingham and the Climate Outreach Information Network)
£198,308

Natural Environment Research Council
CCS Grand Challenge in Geological Storage: CO2 injection and storage: short and long-term behaviour at different scales
October 2013 - September 2017 (with Imperial College, Heriot-Watt, University of Nottingham and British Geological Survey)
£1,515,256

Natural Environment Research Council (Pearson and Corner)
Public perceptions of ocean acidification risks
January 11 – July 13. (with Cardiff School of Earth and Ocean Sciences)
£150,545

Economic and Social Research Council Strategic Infrastructure Fund
Energy biographies: network engagement and installation costs
July 2013- June 2015 (with Cardiff School of Social Sciences)
£283,836

Economic and Social Research Council Strategic Infrastructure Fund
The climate crunch
April 2013 - March 2014 (with Universities of Oxford, Lancaster, Sussex, Strathclyde and Durham)
£20,000

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Transformation of the Top and Tail of Energy Networks - Grand Challenge Network
October 2010 - September 2015 (with Universities of Manchester, Imperial, Nottingham, Southampton, UCL London, Strathclyde, Loughborough, and Warwick)
£50,000

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Integrated assessment of geoengineering proposals (IAGP)
October 2010 - September 2014 (with Universities of Leeds, East Anglia, Lancaster, Oxford, Bristol and UK Met Office)
£375,401

Natural Environment Research Council (UK Energy Research Centre Research Fund)
Transforming the UK energy systems: public values, attitudes and acceptability
January 2011 - December 2012 (with Cardiff Schools of Engineering and Architecture)
£585,934

Economic and Social Research Council
Energy Biographies: Understanding the dynamics of energy use for energy demand reduction
October 2010 - September 2014 (with Cardiff School of Social Sciences)
£574,539

Welsh Assembly Government
Secondment agreement – Climate change knowledge transfer adviser
September 2010 - September 2012
£128,368

Higher Education Funding Council for Wales
Climate change consortium for Wales
October 2009 - March 2014 (with Cardiff Schools of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Social Sciences, and City and Regional Planning, as well as C3W partners in the Universities of Aberystwyth, Bangor and Swansea)
£960,842

ESRC Professorial Climate Leader Fellowship
Risk Perception, climate change and public engagement
October 2008 - September 2011
£249,123

ESRC
Public perceptions of climate change and energy futures in Britain
October 2008 - December 2010
£314,177 (with Cardiff School of Architecture)

Leverhulme Trust
Energy futures and risk: exploring public perception
January 2007 - December 2011
£1,008,000 (with Cardiff School of Architecture, Sheffield University, and University of East Anglia)

US National Science Foundation
Centre for Nanotechnology in Society, Theme 3, risk and societal responses
January 2006 - December 2015 (with University of California Santa Barbara, and University of British Columbia)
$200,000

Research group

Research collaborators

Cardiff University:

External:

  • Professor Richard Eiser, School of Psychology, University of Sheffield
  • Professor Mike Hulme, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia
  • Dr Chris Jones, School of Psychology, Sheffield University
  • Dr Irene Lorenzoni, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia
  • Dr Tee Rogers-Hayden, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia
  • Mr Peter Simmons, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia
  • Dr Alexa Spence, School of Psychology, University of Nottingham
  • Dr Nem Vaughan, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia.

International collaborators:

I am interested in the interaction between individuals and society, broadly defined, and the many problems that pose contemporary risks to people, particularly in relation to environmental or technological issues. This involves work on people’s perceptions of such risks and their benefits, on trust in governments and institutions to manage the risks, and on deliberative processes for resolving risk disputes.

I have worked on a variety of issues over the years including nuclear power, GM food, chemical hazards and climate change, as well as on workplace safety cultures. I take an interdisciplinary approach to many of these issues, and hence my work spans social psychology, science and technology studies and environmental sciences. Prospective PhD students with an interest in the environment, from any of these disciplines, are encouraged to contact me.

If you are interested in applying for a PhD, please submit a formal application.

Current students

  • Andrew Roberts (registered SOCSCI) Identity, Place and Renewable Energy Developments in South Wales
  • Elspeth Spence Public Perceptions of Ocean Acidification
  • Mr Robert Sposato Public Perceptions of Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation
  • Ms Luba Pirgova Visions of Electricity: A Semiotic Approach
  • Ms Erin Roberts (registered SOCSCI) A study of landscapes of consumption in Rural North Wales
  • Mr Sam Hubble Visions of Domestic Electricity Use in a Changing Sociotechnical System Visions of Domestic Electricity Use in a Changing Sociotechnical System
  • Ms Catherine Cherry Exploring Discourses of Decarbonisation: The Social Construction of Low Carbon Housing.

Past projects

  • Dr Merryn Thomas (PhD Cardiff) Public and expert perceptions of sea-level change on the Severn Estuary
  • Dr Stuart Capstick (PhD Cardiff) Climate change discourses in use by the UK public: commonalities and variation over a fifteen year period
  • Dr Christina Demski (PhD Cardiff) Public perceptions of renewable energy technologies
  • Dr Dan Venables (PhD Cardiff) Living with nuclear power: A mixed methods study of local community perceptions
  • Professor John Fisk (PhD Birkbeck College) Component Probabilities and the Conjunction Fallacy
  • Professor Edward Borodzicz (PhD Birkbeck College) Crisis Communication and Risk
  • Dr Susan Hunter (PhD University of East Anglia) The place of Forestry in Modern Welsh Life and Culture
  • Dr Wouter Poortinga (PhD University of East Anglia) Trust and Risk Perception of GM food
  • Dr Susan Wilkinson (PhD University of East Anglia) Consumer Attitudes Towards Functional Foods
  • Dr Miguel de Franca Doria (PhD University of East Anglia) Perceptions of Tap-water Risks
  • Dr Carl Macrae (PhD University of East Anglia) Risk Assessment of Aviation Incident Reports
  • Dr Katherine Haynes (PhD University of East Anglia) Risk Communication of Volcanic Hazards in Monserrat.