Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography

Fall 2012 Seminar Series


Poornima Madhavan
Department of Psychology, Old Dominion University

Monday, September 10, 2012
3:30 PM
Room 3200, Innovation Research Park Building I


Recent polls have revealed that most Americans do not feel a personal connection to the issue of climate change; since 2009, there has been a significant decline in Americans' beliefs, risk perceptions, and trust in the messengers of climate change. The purpose of this research was to understand why communications on climate change are failing to get public attention, what can be done to create a sense of urgency required for public discourse and action, and how to encourage the development of public support for policies that lead to environmental resiliency. We constructed and tested a social science-driven process model of communicating climate change, specific to the problem of sea level rise and flooding in the residential sectors of Norfolk, VA. Results revealed insights into how people understand the risks and psychosocial impacts of sea level rise, factors underlying the community's ability to cope with the threat of sea level rise, the psychosocial barriers that limit action, and the role that social science can play in adapting to this pervasive problem.


Poornima Madhavan is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Old Dominion University, where she is also affiliated with the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center. She received her Ph.D. in Engineering Psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2005, followed by a post-doctoral fellowship at Carnegie Mellon University. Dr. Madhavan studies human decision making processes in environments that embody risk, stress, uncertainty, and time constraints. She is currently studying the role of public opinion in addressing problems of climate change and sea level rise, and how social support systems can be designed to inform community-level decision making and adaptation strategies.

Reception before seminar at 3:00 PM

Old Dominion University Homepage Innovation Research Park Building I
4111 Monarch Way, 3rd Floor
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Norfolk, VA 23508
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