Planet as Patient: What Conservation Can Learn From Health Psychology

Amy Bucher

This talk will cover how behavior change science can influence counterproductive behaviors at the individual, community, and national levels. Using smoking as a case study, we’ll look at how a combination of policy shifts, motivational insights, messaging shifts, and intervention design enabled a slow but meaningful change in smoking behavior over the last five decades.

Slowing the progression of climate change requires action at individual, community, and national levels. Each presents its own challenges in order to produce lasting and effective results. This sort of complex, multi-level behavior change problem is familiar to psychologists and public health professionals, who have been able to work together to dramatically change dangerous health behaviors in the United States.

Ultimately, our goal is to apply lessons from the success of health psychology to behavior change for sustainability. How can conservationists leverage psychology to urge sustainable behaviors running the gamut from recycling and energy conservation, to choosing more environmentally friendly products, to voting for green candidates and supporting green policies, and beyond?


Amy Bucher, Ph.D., is the Behavior Change Design Director at Mad*Pow. In her work, Amy focuses on crafting engaging and motivating solutions that help people change behavior, especially related to health, wellness, learning, and financial well-being. Previously she worked with CVS Health as a Senior Strategist for their Digital Specialty Pharmacy, and with Johnson & Johnson Health and Wellness Solutions Group as Associate Director of Behavior Science.

Amy spent many years working on digital health coaching tools and the intersection of technology and behavior change. The programs she has helped design include health risk assessments, chronic health management programs, behavioral health interventions, and wellness programs, for distribution by health plans or employers. Amy has also worked on custom programming to support medication/therapy adherence and lifestyle changes for clients, including many Johnson & Johnson companies.

Her research interests include motivational design, patient and user engagement, happiness, and how social relationships influence health and well-being. Amy received her A.B. magna cum laude in psychology from Harvard University, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in organizational psychology from the University of Michigan.