Agents of Change - Mind, cognitive bias and decision-making in a context of social and climate change

Project: Research

Project Details


While Sweden is a country with a high capacity to mitigate and adapt to socio-environmental crises and climate change, this capacity has not yet translated into sustainable transformation. Technological solutions exist, Sweden can afford the transition, but still effective action is lacking. Rational arguments for rapid climate action abound. However, cognitive and emotional biases make it difficult to adequately address long-term challenges. They influence how people take decisions and deal with increasing complexity and diversity of democratic and climate governance, i.e., how we analyze and understand data/evidence, negotiate and relate with each other, address conflict and equity issues, communicate risk, and develop solutions. Accordingly, governments across Europe are increasingly addressing such issues through interventions aimed at improving policy-makers cognitive/emotional and relational capacities. At the same time, critical analyses and empirical evidence to understand if and how such interventions impact sustainability outcomes at different scales are lacking. Critical enquiry is urgently needed.

Based on a literature review, in-depth case studies and experiments, this project will i) determine the kinds of interventions currently being implemented, ii) understand how such interventions vary with respect to content and impact, and iii) trial interventions to increase their potential to enable sustainability outcomes.

Layman's description

The project aims to provide new knowledge on the role of the mind in supporting sustainable change. More specifically, it provides critical analyses on the potential interlinkages between personal, practical and political spheres of transformation to support sustainability outcomes at individual, organisational, and systems level. Within that context, Mind4Change deals with the following two questions: i) What mindsets (values, beliefs, paradigms and associated cognitive/emotional and relational capacities) are needed to support sustainable climate action?; and ii) What is needed to enable such mindsets (learning processes, enabling factors, methods)? Focus is here on policy- and decision-makers.

In a recent interview, Professor Christine Wamsler, project leader, explains: "Our project will provide new knowledge on the role of the mind in supporting sustainable change. This involves exploring the need for a different mindset and inner qualities that can support negotiating and activating climate action, along with factors that could enable such a mindset shift. Our results thus help to develop new approaches and learning processes that can support agency of change.”
Short titleMind4Change
Effective start/end date2020/01/012024/12/31

Collaborative partners

  • Lund University (lead)
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Forward Malmö
  • Ekskäret Foundation
  • Transition Network Sweden / Omställning Sverige
  • Mindfulness Centre Sweden AB
  • European Network for Community-Led Initiatives on Climate Change and Sustainability (ECOLISE)


  • FORMAS, a Swedish research council for sustainable development

UKÄ subject classification

  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
  • Psychology

Free keywords

  • climate change
  • sustainability
  • mindsets
  • cognition
  • emotions
  • transformation
  • decision-making