Doctoral Researcher

In 2009 I enrolled in my first PhD degree exploring the relationship between risk-taking behaviour and personality. I had no relevant work experience, no scholarship, and no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up... By the end of 2009 I dropped out.

Almost ten years later, I tried again. In 2018 I enrolled in the first Behaviour Change Graduate Research Industry Partnership program at Monash University. This time I had several years' of research experience, including two in behavioural research, a scholarship, a network of research colleagues, and a cohort of PhD students to keep me going. But, most important, I knew that I wanted to be a behavioural researcher specialising in environmental behaviour change.

My PhD is currently titled "Exploring the role of media in turning the social tide on plastic pollution" and it's being undertaken in partnership with the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, with additional support from Sustainability Victoria. While single-use plastics pose a number of health and environmental threats, my personal interest in the subject relates to the impact that plastic pollution has on biodiversity.

  • Paper 1: "When news media and social media meet: How Facebook users reacted to news stories about a supermarket plastic bag ban" - published in New Media & Society

  • Paper 2: "Social norms and plastic avoidance: Testing the theory of normative social behaviour on an environmental behaviour" - published in Journal of Consumer Behaviour

  • Paper 3: "Exploring the role of media in shaping social norms: The case of single-use plastics" (under peer review)

  • Paper 4: "Communicating what’s normal: A randomised controlled trial experimenting with plastic avoidance media messages" (under peer review)

  • Paper 5: "Targeted change: Using behavioural segmentation to identify and understand plastic consumers and how they respond to media communications" (under peer review)

PhD Papers

Presenter - ASC2020

I had a great time presenting at my first ever Australian Science Communicators conference in February 2020. Not only did I get to publicly introduce the term the "Reucassel Effect" but I got to share some of the key findings from the experimental/fun part of my PhD research.

 

Key findings:
1) Focusing on the volume of plastic waste in documentaries can make plastic use seem more common;
2) But you can counter this by having a well known media personality explain why this single-use plastics are bad;
3) Plastic pollution documentaries are generally getting the message across that avoidance is beneficial . . . however;
4) The tested clips were better at sensitising people to future policy options than changing their beliefs and behaviours.

Presenter - VicBioCon 2020

After attending the Victorian Biodiversity Conference for 2 years I finally presented some of my own research in February 2020. This was also the first time I presented any of my PhD results and I couldn't have asked for a better audience to share my early findings with.

 

Key findings:
1) Most people try to avoid single-use plastics more than they actually do - but they think others avoid much less often than themselves!
2) Social norms are one of the strongest predictors of plastic avoidance behaviours (followed by self-efficacy: i.e. if I think I can and I think others are then I probably will); and
3) Media has mixed effects on out beliefs about social norms depending on the medium (news, documentaries, social media).

Media interviews

My first media appearance was in 2017 but activity really kicked off in 2018, during the first year of my PhD.

These activities included interviews for various news articles, radio stations, and a podcast, including: 

The source material for all these interviews though were most often from articles I had written for The Conversation. ​

As of June 2020 I have five authored articles in The Conversation (see below). Some of these articles have also been syndicated by the ABC and The Guardian which has really helped to build my research profile. 

  • June 24, 2020: Avoiding single-use plastic was becoming normal, until coronavirus. Here’s how we can return to good habits (syndicated by The Guardian)

  • August 1, 2018: Why Coles’ plastic bag backflip leaves us worse off than before (syndicated by ABC News)

  • July 19, 2018: Here’s a funny thing: can comedy really change our environmental behaviours?

  • July 13, 2018: How to break up with plastics (using behavioural science)

  • August 15, 2017: The truth about inconvenient truths: ‘big issue’ documentaries don’t always change our behaviour

Head to my profile on The Conversation website to check out the articles in full.

Authored media articles

©2020 by Kim Borg.