Professor Wouter Poortinga


Research group:
Social & environmental psychology
029 208 74755
Tower Building, Park Place

Research summary

I am a Professor of environmental psychology at the Welsh School of Architecture and the School of Psychology at Cardiff University. My research interests are in a wide variety of topics regarding human-environment interactions, including (1) environmental risk perception, (2) sustainable behaviours and lifestyles, and (3) housing, neighbourhoods and health.

I have organised a number of comprehensive surveys of public opinion towards future energy options and climate change, and contributed to a research synthesis of the literature on public attitudes to environmental change. I am currently leading a project on public attitudes to nuclear power and climate change in Britain two years after the Fukushima accident.

My work on sustainable behaviours and lifestyles examined the role of environmental values and attitudes in household energy use, evaluated the effectiveness and further attitudinal and behavioural impacts of the Welsh carrier bag charge, and involved the development of a Welsh environmental attitudes and behaviours segmentation model.

I am currently managing a portfolio for research project on the topic of housing, neighbourhoods and health. This includes projects on the health impacts of the Carmarthenshire Homes Standard (CHS) programme – based on the Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS), the health impacts and economic value of meeting housing quality standards (in which we further develop the Residential Environment Assessment Tool; REAT), and the evaluation of structural energy-performance investments in low-income neighbourhood through the Arbed programme.

Further research interests are in social capital and cohesion and its role in community resilience and wellbeing, perceptions of indoor air quality, and the clustering of lifestyle risk factors. Other research helps to understand how social values get translated into action. This research is being undertaken in collaboration with colleagues in the Values in Action (ViA) Centre, at Cardiff University

Teaching summary

Level 1 (MEDIC): Health in Society: Stress, Health and Coping lectures for the Health in Society module.

Level 2 (PSYCH): Social Psychology Practical (PS2007) on the ‘Asymmetry of Trust’

Level 3 (PSYCH): Coordinator and Lecturer on the Environmental Psychology Module (PS3415) on the topics of Environmental Behaviour, Environmental Risk Perception, Environmental Cognition, and Environmental Influences on Attitudes, Behaviour, and Well-Being.

Level 3 (ARCHI): Social Aspects of Design lecture for the Issues in Contemporary Architecture module.

M.Arch (ARCHI): Lectures and seminars on Social Research Methods and Research Ethics for the Research Methods module (Part 2 of Architectural Studies).

Masters (ARCHI): Lecture on Environmental Attitudes and Behaviour for the Architecture Earth & Society module (MSc in Theory and Practice of Sustainable Design; MSc in Sustainable Energy and Environment).

Masters (ARCHI): Tutoring and lecturing on Social Research Methods for the Primitives module (MSc in Theory and Practice of Sustainable Design; MSc in Sustainable Energy and Environment).

Selected publications (2014 onwards)


Full list of publications


Research topics and related papers

I have a broad interest spanning the topics of Environmental Attitudes and Behaviour, Environmental Risk Perception, and Environmental Health. Current research topics studied include:

  • Housing and health
  • The role of social capital in community resilience and wellbeing
  • Public perceptions of climate change and energy futures
  • Perceptions of radiological risks (e.g. radon, nuclear power)
  • Sustainable lifestyles and practices


National Institute of Health Research. Public Health Research programme (2013-2016)
Health impacts of structural energy performance investments in Wales: An evaluation of the Arbed programme.

Carmarthenshire County Council (2009-2016)
Carmarthenshire homes standard health impact scoping study.

National Institute of Heath Research. Public Health Research programme (2011-2016)
Health impact, and economic value, of meeting housing quality standards.
£ 525,361.

UK Energy Research Centre (2013)
Two Years On: How has the Fukushima accident changed attitudes to nuclear power in Britain and Japan.

Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation and Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation (2013)
Grant to organise public seminar on Energy Policy, Media Representations, and Public Perceptions of Nuclear Power after the Fukushima Disaster.

Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (2012)
Invitation Fellowship for Research in Japan (Short Term): Public Perceptions of Climate Change and Energy Security, Preferences for Future Energy Technologies.

Welsh Government (2011)
Developing Narratives for a Sustainable Wales.

Welsh Government (2011)
Evaluation of the Introduction of a Charge on Single-Use Carrier Bags in Wales: Attitude Change and Behavioural Spillover.

Welsh Assembly Government: New Ideas Fund (2010-2011)
Community resilience and wellbeing in Wales: A multilevel analysis of the 2007 and 2009 Citizenship Survey

Research Councils UK (2010).
Public Attitudes to Low-Carbon Energy - Research Synthesis.

Welsh Assembly Government (2010-2011)
Welsh environmental attitudes and behaviour segmentation project.

Research Councils UK, Living With Environmental Change (2009)
Research Synthesis. A review of public attitudes to environmental change.

Economic and Social Research Council (2008-2010)
Public perceptions of climate change and energy futures in Britain.

Department of Health (2007-2009)
Awareness and perceptions of the risks of exposure to radon in homes: a population based approach to examine the impacts of local radon policies, trust, and social capital.

Leverhulme Trust (2007-2010)
Energy futures and risk: exploring public perceptions.

Economic and Social Research Council (2005)
Public risk perceptions, climate change and the reframing of UK energy policy

Research group

Understanding Risk

Postgraduate research interests

If you are interested in applying for a PhD, or for further information regarding my postgraduate research, please contact me directly (contact details available on the 'Overview' page), or submit a formal application here.

Current students

Ms Christina Demski (Year 3)
Public perceptions of energy choices and climate change.

Mr Dan Venables (Staff Candidate)
Living with nuclear power: A mixed methods study of local community perceptions.

Ms Christine Suffolk (Year 1)
The impacts of housing-led regeneration on energy practices of low income households

Mr Dan Rossiter (Year 1)
Classroom environmental conditions and student performance


2002-2004: PhD Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich.

1995-1997: Energy and Environmental Studies, University of Groningen, the Netherlands (MSc level). Centre for Energy and Environmental Studies (IVEM).

1990‑1995: MSc Social Psychology, University of Groningen, the Netherlands. Department of Social and Organisational Psychology


2014-present: Professor, Welsh School of Architecture/ Department of Psychology, Cardiff University, Cardiff

2010-2014: Senior Lecturer, Welsh School of Architecture/ Department of Psychology, Cardiff University, Cardiff

2006-2010: RCUK Academic Fellow, Welsh School of Architecture/ Department of Psychology, Cardiff University, Cardiff

2001-2005: Senior Research Associate. Centre for Environmental Risk (CER). University of East Anglia, Norwich.

2000: Researcher. Social and Cultural Planning Office (SCP), the Netherlands.

1999-2000: Researcher. Centre for Environmental and Traffic Psychology (COV), University of Groningen, the Netherlands.