Understanding the relationships between individual temporal experience and attitudes towards sustainability transitions

Ruth Ogden, The Times of a Just Transition
Project status

Whilst there has been a significant amount of research exploring the psychological predictors of conservation/sustainability behaviours (Van Der Linden, 2015), there has been relatively little exploration of the psychological processes underpinning individuals’ understandings of the temporality of sustainability transitions (Pahl et al., 2014). In particular, there is a lack of understanding of how individual experiences of time and representations of time influence attitudes to towards sustainability transitions and critically, the timing of sustainability transitions.

There is significant variation in the way individuals experience the passage of time over short and long epochs (Ogden 2020, 2021, Wittmann & Lehnhoff, 2005). Differing temporal experiences during significant individual and societal events (e.g. pandemics, trauma, natural disasters) can also influence how long these events are recalled as lasting for (Ogden & Piovesan, 2022). Critically, the remembered length of an event impacts subsequent wellbeing and recovery (Ogden & Piovesan, 2022). Time experience prior to, during and after a sustainability transitions therefore has the potential to influence attitudes towards the transition, and in particular, the perceived legitimacy and justness of the changes experienced. Understanding how individual experiences of time influence attitudes towards sustainability transitions is therefore critical to understanding how transitions may be temporally framed to increase acceptability and reduce harm.

Using a mixed methodological approach, a series of studies will be conducted to understand the relationship between individual temporal experience and attitudes towards sustainability transitions. Across three studies I will explore how 1) individual experiences of time relate to attitudes to sustainability, 2) how demographic and personality characteristics influence perceptions of temporal distance in relation to past and future sustainability transitions, and 3) how people delay discount negative events. The information generated in these studies will offer a significant advancement in our understanding of the role of individual temporal experience in perceptions of justice in sustainability transitions.


Ogden, R. S. (2020). The passage of time during the UK Covid-19 lockdown. PLOS ONE, 15(7), e0235871.

Ogden, R. (2021). Distortions to the passage of time during England’s second national lockdown: A role for depression. PLOS ONE, 16(4), e0250412.

Ogden, R. S., & Piovesan, A. (2022). How long was it for you? Memories of the duration of the UK covid-19 lockdown. PLOS ONE, 17(7), e0271609.

Pahl, S., Sheppard, S., Boomsma, C., & Groves, C. (2014). Perceptions of time in relation to climate change. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 5(3), 375-388.

Trope, Y., & Liberman, N. (2010). Construal-level theory of psychological distance. Psychological Review, 117(2), 440.

Van der Linden, S. (2015). The social-psychological determinants of climate change risk perceptions: Towards a comprehensive model. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 41, 112-124.

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