Dr Stuart Capstick

Research Associate

Research group:
Social & environmental psychology
029 208 76262
Tower Building, Park Place

Research summary

I am interested in how people understand and respond to climate change. What determines our level of interest and concern about this topic? What are the drivers of personal action and what influences the way we view national and policy responses to climate change?

In 2015, I joined the Low-Carbon Lifestyles and Behavioural Spillover (CASPI) project as a Research Fellow. This project aims to understand how environmentally-friendly lifestyles are understood and develop within different cultures. My main focus within CASPI is to design and analyse cross-national surveys which will be run across seven nations, including the UK, South Africa and Brazil.

Teaching summary

I do not have formal teaching duties at the present time, though have previously taught on the third year Environmental Psychology module and the MSc in Social Science Research Methods.

Selected publications (2014 onwards)


Full list of publications


Media activities

I occasionally find my way into the media, for example a 2014 article for The Guardian.

Research topics and related papers

My main research focus is on cross-cultural understanding of climate change and environmentally-significant behaviours. I am working with Dr Nick Nash and Prof Lorraine Whitmarsh within the CASPI project at Cardiff University to examine the cultural, contextual and personal factors underpinning sustainable lifestyles. In particular, we are interested in the ways in which discrete pro-environmental behaviours (such as the use of public transport or cycling) relate to other behaviours of relevance to personal emissions. Our research aims to better understand the conditions under which adopting certain behaviours might lead to uptake of other actions, a process termed behavioural ‘spillover’.

I have previously carried out research into public perceptions of ocean acidification as part of the UK Ocean Acidification research programme, as well as researching public perceptions of climate change for the Climate Change Consortium of Wales. I am particularly interested in the ways in which public understanding of climate change has developed over time, the nature of public scepticism about climate change, and the relationship between direct personal experience (e.g. of extreme weather events) and perceptions of climate change. My research considers and tests different approaches to the communication of environmental issues. In 2014 I collaborated with researchers at the University of the South Pacific to explore the role of the arts in Fiji in interpreting and portraying climate change. My PhD involved the analysis of qualitative and quantitative datasets from six projects over the period 1997-2010 to trace commonalities and variation over time in people’s viewpoints concerning climate change.

I am an active member of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. I have worked with colleagues within this network on options for achieving radical emissions reduction through behaviour and lifestyle change, as well as ways of reducing the carbon footprint from our research activity. This latter work was discussed in a 2015 Nature editorial.

Capstick, S. B., Pidgeon, N. F. and Henwood, K. (in press). Stability and change in British public discourses about climate change between 1997 and 2010. Environmental Values, forthcoming.

Capstick, S. B., Whitmarsh, L. E., Poortinga, W., Pidgeon, N. F. and Upham, P. (2015). International trends in public perceptions of climate change over the past quarter centuryWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 6(1), 35-61. (10.1002/wcc.321

Capstick, S. B., Lorenzoni, I., Corner, A. and Whitmarsh, L. E. (2015). Prospects for radical emissions reduction through behavior and lifestyle changeCarbon Management (10.1080/17583004.2015.1020011

Capstick, S. B. and Pidgeon, N. F. (2014). Public perception of cold weather events as evidence for and against climate changeClimatic Change, 122(4), 695-708. (10.1007/s10584-013-1003-1

Capstick, S. B. and Pidgeon, N. F. (2014). What is climate change scepticism? Examination of the concept using a mixed methods study of the UK publicGlobal Environmental Change, 24, 389-401. (10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2013.08.012)


Public perceptions of climate change in the immediate aftermath of major national flooding. Funded by ESRC: £181,446.

Research group

Understanding Risk Group
Climate Change Consortium of Wales (C3W)
Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research

Research collaborators

Prof Lorraine Whitmarsh and Dr Nick Nash (CASPI).

Prof Nick Pidgeon, Dr Christina Demski and members of the Understanding Risk Group at Cardiff University.

Researchers across the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.

Dr Adam Corner, Climate Outreach and Information Network (COIN).

Dr Sarah Hemstock, University of the South Pacific.

Undergraduate education

BSc Psychology, Plymouth University

Postgraduate education

Master in Research Methods, University of Bath
PhD in Psychology, Cardiff University


March 2015 – present: Research Fellow, School of Psychology, Cardiff University

November 2011 – February 2015: Research Associate, School of Psychology, Cardiff University

October 2008 – October 2011: PhD student, School of Psychology, Cardiff University

June 2006 – February 2007: Research assistant, School of Pharmacy, University of Otago, New Zealand.