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Inspiring Research Podcast

Mar 3, 2021

#1 Rachael Singleton

In today’s episode with Rachael Singleton, we talk about blending psychology and the natural environment; how we can better sustain the immense value our beaches offer to their visitors.

Key points from this discussion:

  • Looking to make tourism more sustainable. 
  • The six key values that people derive from the beach and nature. 
  • And how psychology and human behaviour needs to be part of sustainability.

On average, 625 pieces of litter can be found for every 100 metres of Northern Irish beach (KNIB, 2019), with 80% of this litter originating from land – further impacting the aquatic environment. Rachael’s project aims to tackle this 80% by exploring behavioural drivers that lead to ‘littering’, including personal experience, needs and values (Moreno, Lofthouse & Lilley, 2011). She will then use the insight to design an  intervention to reduce this negative littering behaviour.

It is important to her that what she learns from existing research, from theory and from her own research process contributes to the ‘real world’ by bringing new insight and new ways of managing our beaches in particular and our natural environment in general.

She is doing this by bringing together User Centered Design (a ‘design’ approach) and  behaviour change theory – the COM-B Behaviour Change framework.

Rachael’s research reflects the multi-disciplinary nature of human behaviour in the natural environment and is ‘positioned’ at the point where psychology, tourism and the environment meet.

Rachael currently works as a Behavioural Scientist in the Northern Ireland Innovation Lab where she uses psychology to tackle wider societal problems including debt, poverty and COVID transmission. She has a psychology degree, an English MA and is pursuing a PhD at Ulster University that combines psychology and the natural environment in trying to understand how we can better sustain the immense value our beaches offer to their visitors.


Key Resources:

Rachael on Linkedin - 

Northern Ireland Innovation Lab website -

ESRC - Economic & Social Research Council - 

NINE Doctoral Training Partnership Website / ABC (Accelerating Business Collaboration)-

Inspiration North Website -