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Markowitz, Ezra

MarkowitzTitle: Assistant Professor
Degree: Ph.D. University of Oregon
Office: 303 Holdsworth
Phone: (413)545-1237

Personal page:

Primary interests

I’m interested in uncovering the underlying psychological, social and contextual factors that influence individual and collective environmental decision-making. Understanding what drives the conservation- and sustainability-related actions people take can help inform strategies, programs, interventions and policies designed to improve both environmental conservation and human well-being. I primarily use methods and theory from the behavioral and communication sciences to reveal how individuals and communities make environmentally-relevant decisions, often in the face of conflicting priorities and significant tradeoffs. My research, teaching and practice all aim to develop and highlight the insights that behavioral science has to offer in promoting positive environmental and societal outcomes.

Current projects

1) Intergenerational environmental decision-making
Much of my recent research has been focused on uncovering factors that influence how individuals make decisions in the present that have their most important impacts in the future, and particularly on other people in the future. I am currently exploring a number of issues related to this topic, including the role of moral emotions such as gratitude on future-oriented decision-making and the impact of legacy concerns on climate change concern and action.

2) Decision architecture and environmental conservation
Over the past 10 years, a powerful set of tools for encouraging positive environmental, financial and health-related decision-making has emerged at the nexus of psychology and economics: decision (or choice) architecture (DA). I am currently working to catalogue and identify the DA tools that are most effective in motivating both environmental conservation behaviors and effective responses to communication about emerging hazards (e.g., approaching hurricanes).

3) Communicating uncertainty: effects on trust, risk perception and engagement
My colleagues and I are examining how the presentation of uncertain versus certain information about future climate impacts influences non-experts’ trust in scientists, risk perceptions and people’s mitigation and adaptation preferences.

4) Multi-disciplinary perspectives on climate ethics
The field of climate ethics has traditionally been dominated by philosophers. Recently, however, there has been an explosion of research across numerous disciplinary domains (including Psychology, Law, Economics, Geography and Political Science) on the ethical dimensions and implications of anthropogenic climate change. Currently, I am working to integrate the incredible diversity of ideas and perspectives that are emerging in this area.

5) Information propagation across social networks
How does information about emerging issues, such as climate change, move across existing social networks? How might basic psychological processes (e.g., loss aversion) influence such propagation of information? In this project, I am working with partners at Princeton to answer these and related questions, looking at the decisions people make about what information to pass along to others regarding climate change.

Courses taught

Environmental decision-making and communication, NRC 597ED

Selected publications

Nisbet M.C. & Markowitz E.M. (2014). Understanding public opinion in debates over biomedical research: Looking beyond political partisanship to focus on beliefs about science and society. PLoS ONE 9(2).

Corner, A., Markowitz, E.M. & Pidgeon, N. (2014). Public engagement with climate change: The role of human values. WIRE Climate Change.

Markowitz, E.M., Slovic, P., Vastfjall, D. & Hodges, S.D. (2013). Compassion fade and the challenge of environmental conservation. Judgment & Decision Making, 8, 397- 406.

Howe, P.D., Markowitz, E.M., Lee, T., Ko, C., Leiserowitz, A. (2013). Global perceptions of local temperature change. Nature Climate Change, 3, 352-356.

Markowitz, E.M. & Bowerman, T. (2012). How much is too much? Examining the public’s beliefs about consumption. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, 12, 167- 189.

Nisbet, M.C., Markowitz, E.M., Kotcher, J.E. (2012). Winning the climate change conversation: Framing and moral messaging in public campaigns. In L. Ahern & D.S. Bortree (Eds.), Talking green: Exploring contemporary issues in environmental communications. New York: Peter Lang.Markowitz, E.M. (2012). Is climate change an ethical issue? Exploring young adults’ beliefs about climate and morality. Climatic Change, 114, 479-495.

Markowitz, E.M., Goldberg, L.R., Ashton, M.C. & Lee, K. (2012). Profiling the ‘pro- environmental individual’: A personality perspective. Journal of Personality, 80, 81-111.

Markowitz, E.M. & Malle, B.F. (2012). Did you just see that? Making sense of environmentally relevant behavior. Ecopsychology, 4, 37-50.

Markowitz, E.M. & Shariff, A.F. (2012). Climate change and moral judgment. Nature Climate Change, 2, 243-247.

Swim, J., Markowitz, E.M., & Bloodhart, B. (2012). Psychology and global climate change. In S. Clayton (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Environmental Psychology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Page updated: May 11, 2016