Can you share a bit about yourself and your background?

My name is Omid Ghasemi, and I’m a Research Associate at the UNSW Institute for Climate Risk & Response. I have completed my PhD in Cognitive Science, and I am interested in climate change and the role of behavioural science in mitigating and adapting to its impacts.

My research explores the most effective methods of communicating climate information and investigates ways to integrate human psychology into climate models. Exploring and testing theories of human judgment, including the limitations and strengths of our intellectual capabilities, has equipped me with a foundation to apply my knowledge and skills to the field of climate change.

In my current role at the UNSW Institute for Climate Risk & Response, I am putting my theoretical knowledge into practical application.

What inspired you to become a researcher in this area?

During my PhD, I wanted to understand how individuals make decisions and how their reasoning intertwines with their belief systems. After completing my PhD, I continued along this research path by examining the extent to which individuals are influenced by contextual information in their reasoning and decision-making processes.

I am interested in behavioural science since it can assist us in addressing climate risks and many other threats we face as a society. However, behavioural science alone isn't the solution, and many unknown factors are at play here.

For instance, we still do not know the most crucial factor contributing to people's disbelief in climate change and the scientific consensus surrounding it. Is it science scepticism, conspiratorial thinking, a lack of concern, or a combination of all these factors that drive inaction regarding climate change?

Importantly, we have yet to determine how to design and implement interventions that target human behaviour without undermining the need for and support of more systematic changes. 

How do you see your research contributing to addressing urgent climate change issues?

Policies addressing climate change encounter barriers when people don’t support them. However, gaining the support of individuals is a complex challenge, as numerous variables are involved, including political viewpoints, emotional reactions, assessments of scientific data, trusted sources of information, and economic circumstances.

My research examines the best ways to design and communicate climate policies to garner maximum support. This topic is important to me because climate change is a highly complex concept. While we experience its effects in our everyday lives, it remains challenging for many people to fully comprehend. It involves probabilistic projections of the future, introducing uncertainty.

It is crucial to understand how climate change impacts us, our lives, our economy, and our country and how we can address it and minimise its risks. Therefore, I am also interested in examining optimal approaches to communicate scientific findings to the public.

Why is multidisciplinary collaboration important to you?

Climate change is one of the most complex problems humans have faced. It involves many micro and macro factors, from individuals to companies to governments. Such a complex problem requires multifaceted solutions.

So, I am passionate about approaching climate change in a multidisciplinary way. I am collaborating with experts in behavioural science, climate science, and actuarial studies, to name a few. For example, in a project with this team of researchers, we examine the impact of extreme weather events in Australia on individuals’ pro-environmental beliefs and actions (from installing solar panels to voting for different parties).

Such a vast project requires researchers from different fields, and this collaborative effort not only improves my research by making it more practical and rigorous but also enhances my skills and knowledge to incorporate different techniques and theoretical knowledge, which I can use in my future research.

Universities and institutes like ours can also collaborate with banks and insurance companies to help them understand how their customers perceive climate risk. For example, estimates have shown that around one in 25 Australian homes will be uninsurable by 2030. This poses a significant challenge for banks and insurance companies in their decisions concerning mortgages and insurance premiums.

A growing number of websites provide risk scores for properties, and different sectors now rely on these scores. However, the question is whether people also rely on such risk information and how we can communicate this information to improve risk perception.

We can answer this question through rigorous multidisciplinary research. Importantly, we can assist state and federal governments in designing behavioural interventions to help people make better decisions.

For interviews, please get in touch with Victoria Ticha, Media & Communications Officer, at or 0410 610 158.