Gifford, Robert



Phone number: (250) 721-7532
Department: School of Environmental Studies

Research description:

- Resource management (commons dilemmas and social dilemmas)
- Personality and nonverbal behaviour
- Ecological issues such as environmental activism and pro-environmental behavior
- The meaning and liveability of neighbourhoods
Expertise Profile
Dr. Robert Gifford is a pioneer of environmental psychology, a field that didn't formally exist when he first became interested in it.

Environmental psychology is all about how people interact with their physical environment, whether it's a building or whether it's the whole globe, says Dr. Gifford.

At the start of his career, he spent a lot of time helping architects plan buildings, taking into account the needs and behaviours of those who would be using the space.

A project that he is most proud of and is still in use today is a centre he helped design in Victoria for people with multiple sclerosis (MS). After speaking with dozens of MS patients, Dr. Gifford made over 200 recommendations that made the building more user friendly for those that suffer from the disease.

Today his focus has moved more towards the psychology of sustainability.

Along with students in his Environmental, Social and Personality Lab at the university, Dr. Gifford uses a computer program, dubbed FISH, for studying the resource management behaviour of individuals and small groups as they fish in a virtual ocean.

He is perhaps most well known for an article on the "Dragons of Inaction" which describes the barriers people face to pro-environmental behaviours, like recycling. His work now concentrates on finding intervention techniques and messaging to overcome these barriers.

Dr. Gifford is the author of four editions of the textbook Environmental Psychology: Principles and Practice and is the editor of the Journal of Environmental Psychology.
Related Links
The Environmental, Social and Personality Lab:

Health related research:

Dr. Gifford has studied children's mental health and their residential environment.

Countries lived or worked in:


Software development

Dr. Gifford developed FISH, a computer program for studying the resource management behaviour of individuals and small groups as they fish in a virtual ocean. He also developed a program for studying resource management or commons dilemma behaviour.

Community projects

Dr. Gifford has studied the pros and cons of woodburning for heating in Victoria and area.

UVic Speakers bureau

Robert Gifford takes part in the UVic Speakers Bureau.
More information about the Speakers Bureau can be found here.

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