Niamh Murtagh




Dr Niamh Murtagh is a Senior Research Fellow at the Bartlett School of Construction and Project Management, University College London (UCL). Niamh is an environmental psychologist whose research focuses on sustainable behaviour, including energy, transport, recycling and the built environment. As a Research Fellow in the Environmental Psychology Research Centre at the University of Surrey, her work explored transport and energy behaviours, on projects funded by ESRC and EPSRC, co-working with disciplines including communications engineers, economists and political scientists. At UCL, Niamh’s focus has been on applying insights from psychological theory to sustainable construction, investigating the psychological underpinnings of pro-environmental behaviour in construction professionals. Again multidisciplinary, working with geographers, architects and management scholars, her studies have examined professional identity, motivation and dynamics of power in architects, small builders and building control inspectors. A more recent interest is on climate change resilience in the built environment and she has won funding from the British Academy to explore psychological factors at play in householders’ decisions on making their homes more resilient to overheating. Niamh has published widely in, and is a regular reviewer for, journals including Journal of Environmental Psychology, Construction Management and Economics and Building Research and Information.

Work w/ CUSP

Amongst the valuable perspectives which can add to knowledge and contribute to societal and policy change towards sustainable prosperity is that of environmental psychology. A relatively young discipline, its development in response to growing concerns over human-induced environmental damage dates back to the 1970s. Since then, the field has developed understanding not only of people’s motivations towards environmentally-impacting behaviour but also of the mechanisms of climate change denial and of how best to communicate environmental issues. The challenge of transforming to a truly sustainable society is, on one level, a challenge of changing human behaviour and, critically, of human communication.

The CUSP fellowship will enable Niamh to work with Birgitta Gatersleben to develop a book proposal on insights from psychology on sustainable behaviour. The target audience will be those working on any aspect of developing a more sustainable society, from local authorities seeking to increase recycling rates to local activists developing community initiatives to policy makers.