Climate change causes especially young people globally to experience emotional distress, which has numerous consequences at the individual and societal levels. There is a pressing need to design effective interventions tailored for this population, recognizing the complexity of climate distress (combination of adverse climate change emotions such as anxiety, sadness, anger, and frustration). Since young adults live in an interlinked ecosystem of the digital and physical world, this calls for the development of a holistic and multi-sided intervention.
In this project, the aim is to develop a hybrid storytelling intervention that alleviates young adults’ climate distress. The intervention would do this by helping young adults build their narrative identity, a narrative sense of oneself created with storytelling, which also includes climate agency, a sense of being able and willing to navigate the climate crisis. Identification with characters and transportation into alternative worlds as well as the use of self-reflective writing, inspired by different triggers such as a VR experience, open up possibilities for developing narrative identity and climate agency.
The research question is “How can a hybrid storytelling intervention alleviate climate distress in young adults?”.
This PhD project has the following main aims:
1. To understand young adults’ ideas and needs for alleviating their climate distress. Subsequently, these ideas are put to use in testing various trigger materials and environments that are meant to enhance the participants’ narrative identity through reflective writing.
2. To collect participant experiences from various activities. The participants engage in individual audio journalling and social audio reflection through the Wisper app, created by the GEMH lab. In addition, the participants experience various future environmental scenarios in a VR environment (e.g. a hopeful one where actions solve a specific problem, a dystopian one where human action fails, etc.).
3. To develop a hybrid storytelling group intervention where the participants encounter environmental storytelling triggers and discuss their experiences in a facilitated group.
4. To quantitatively test the effectiveness of the intervention and to qualitatively understand and describe its potential.
This project also aims to produce guidelines for people interested in facilitating storytelling groups for climate-distressed young adults. In this project, you will collect and analyze both quantitative (statistical data collected with e.g. surveys) and qualitative (the reflective writing exercises) data and integrate them into mixed-method publications.
The key tasks of the PhD candidate include:
Are you interested to be part of our team? Please submit your application via the ‘Apply now’ button below before April 30, 2024 and include:
For more information regarding this position, you are welcome to contact Prof. Gerben Westerhof (firstname.lastname@example.org).
At the Department of Technology, Human and Institutional Behaviour (HIB), we are specialists in the science of behaviour change and the interplay between human behaviour and technology.
Why do we behave the way we do, and how does our behaviour change? Why is it that some people can successfully adapt their diet or lifestyle, and others seem unable to? What drives behavioural changes among people and groups? How can our governments help us to behave in ways that are healthy, sustainable, and inclusive, or that will make our countries, societies and cities a safer place to live? What role can technologies play – from virtual reality or artificial intelligence to human-media interaction and value-based design – in influencing our behaviour for the better? And, conversely, what does our behaviour tell us about how these new technologies should be developed? These are some of the key questions we deal with as researchers, educators and societal problem solvers at the HIB department.
The Faculty of Behavioral, Management and Social sciences (BMS) aims to play a key role in understanding, jointly developing and evaluating innovations in society. Technological developments are the engine of innovation. As a technical university that puts people first, we tailor them to human needs and behavior and use social engineering to integrate them into society. We also ensure adequate governance at public and private level, and robust, inclusive and fair organizational structures. We do this by developing, sharing and applying high-quality knowledge in Psychology, Business Administration, Public Administration, Communication Sciences, Philosophy, Educational Sciences and Health Sciences. Our research and education in these disciplines revolves around tackling and solving societal challenges. The research programs of BMS are closely linked to the research of the UT institutes Mesa+ Institute for Nanotechnology, TechMed Center and Digital Society Institute.
As an employer, the Faculty of BMS offers work that matters. We equip you to create new possibilities for yourself and for our society. With us, you will become part of a leading technical university with increasing, positive social impact. We offer an open, inclusive and entrepreneurial atmosphere, in which we encourage you to make healthy choices, for example through our flexible, adaptable benefits.
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