Sarah Elizabeth Wolfe

Sarah Elizabeth Wolfe
Royal Roads University | RRU

PhD

About

25
Publications
5,299
Reads
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248
Citations
Introduction
I'm an Full Professor at Royal Roads University. I examine the social-psychological variables of water decisions and governance within a context of climate change, flooding and drought. Water is essential to our existence – ecological, biological and cultural – and our ability to ‘solve’ water problems is a litmus test for our capacity to address other environmental challenges. Previous research has been on efficiency, social networks, gender and int'l development.
Additional affiliations
July 2017 - present
University of Waterloo
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
January 2009 - January 2016
University of Waterloo
Position
  • Professor (Assistant)
January 2009 - January 2016
University of Waterloo
Position
  • Professor (Assistant)

Publications

Publications (25)
Article
Full-text available
The beliefs underlying the water supply-management, demand-management, and soft-path paradigms are examined. Two questions are considered. First, can social psychology’s insights on mortality salience help explain the desire to control water and the dominant water supply-management paradigm? Second, can those insights also help explain the limited...
Article
Full-text available
Environmental campaigns provide information to encourage people to alter their behaviors but with mixed success. Terror Management Theory (TMT)—and the influence of mortality reminders—offers a useful framework for understanding environmentally significant behaviors, and provides critical insights for developing more effective environmental communi...
Article
Full-text available
Adaptation and mitigation efforts are hampered by multiple obstacles and thus lag behind climate changes' speed and scope. Some of the most powerful obstacles to climate action are the social‐psychological factors that influence human thought, preferences, and behaviors. These factors, including those articulated by environmental psychology general...
Article
Full-text available
Global climate change awareness is increasing, but efforts to convey information can trigger undesirable behaviors, including denial, skepticism, and increased resource consumption. It is therefore essential to more fully investigate social–psychological responses to climate information and messaging if we are to prompt, support, and sustain pro‐en...
Article
Full-text available
This research is a critical examination of the behavioral foundations of livelihood pathways over a 50-year time period in a multispecies fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Fishers make difficult decisions to pursue, enjoy, and protect their livelihoods in times of change and uncertainty, and the resultant behaviors shape efforts to adva...
Article
Full-text available
With increased frequency of extreme weather events due to climate change, there is growing need for urban, small-scale adaptation and preventative measures such as stormwater management to reduce the risk of flooding. Homeowners are often reluctant to adopt preventative stormwater measures without tangible benefits or direct experience with the flo...
Article
Full-text available
Cognitive-affective science research shows that rational cold cognition and irrational hot cognition are causally integrated in the human brain. Sub-conscious and conscious emotions powerfully affect supposedly rational decisions, including those decisions we make about water resources management and governance. Through this research, I: (1) evalua...
Article
Full-text available
When the drinking water in Walkerton, Ontario (2000) was contaminated—sending 65 people to hospital and killing seven people—outrage and recriminations quickly reached the provincial Parliament and Toronto media outlets. But beyond the politics and policy, Walkerton illustrated something more fundamental to the human condition. We used the Walkerto...
Article
Full-text available
Terror Management Theory (TMT) suggests that mortality salience (MS), or death reminders, should impact environmental behaviour and decision-making by increasing consumption and resource usage, shifting aesthetic preferences toward cultivated landscapes, and affecting adherence to environmental norms. We examined MS effects on residential flood ris...
Article
Full-text available
Dams have historically been constructed as a supply management strategy to control water despite increasingly recognized sociocultural, environmental and financial costs. Current water management strategies continue to depend on technology-based solutions despite these costs. We used a transdisciplinary approach to link water history and social psy...
Conference Paper
The western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB) experiences chronic algal fouling due to elevated nutrient levels. Lake Erie's largest recorded harmful algal bloom (HAB) occurred in 2011 (Michalak et al., 2013). HAB's have significant public health, ecological and economic impacts. Agencies responsible for the binational management of the Great Lakes have decla...
Article
Full-text available
This article is an investigation of the different factors that potentially influence the career choices of Canadian female professionals working in water research and policy (WRP). This community was broadly defined as any Canadian engineers, technicians, biologists, planners, economists, scholars conducting physical and social research, public ser...
Article
Full-text available
Urban stormwater runoff rates are expected to intensify with climate change. Permeable surfaces, a low-impact development (LID) stormwater management technology, can be used to mitigate the impacts of urban stormwater runoff. Permeable surfaces have demonstrable benefits for use in northern climates, but widespread use requires greater recognition...
Article
Full-text available
We face multiple water challenges: droughts, floods, crumbling infrastructure and disappearing natural hydrosystems. Technological interventions will help but these challenges also require social solutions and good governance. Identifying and implementing both technical and social solutions demands a resilient water research and policy community (W...
Article
Full-text available
We often assume that researchers and decision-makers are rational beings reliant on hard data to determine the best policy. But individuals are also influenced by their experiences with their physical and social environments. How they perceive and interact with their environment is also important for decision-making. The brain processes these perso...
Article
Full-text available
The pressure on water and wastewater infrastructure in Canadian municipalities continues to rise with the need for increased capacity and upgrades. Demands to extend and maintain municipal infrastructure means that capital costs threaten to swallow municipal budgets. A water efficiency strategy has helped some municipalities to maintain or reduce t...
Article
Full-text available
Professional plumbers play an essential role in the implementation of water efficiency. If North America is to achieve high water efficiency standards and more ambitious plumbing codes, plumbers will need to be actively included in the water efficiency discussion. Repositioning the industry will required a cultural shift because the plumbing commun...
Article
Full-text available
Social capital concepts may help to explain implementation gaps and to make water demand management policies more effective. However, the research is limited along these lines of inquiry. We collected data through multiple semistructured interviews, participant observation, surveys, and literature review to assess the evidence of social capital's i...
Article
Full-text available
Water efficiency research has focused on consumption rates and the tools—for example, pricing—designed to modify consumers' demand. But municipal practitioners can also be a highly influential group and have been neglected in the conventional water demand management (WDM) research. To understand better how to make WDM policy implementation more suc...
Article
Full-text available
Water demand management (WDM) is reconceptualized within a social innovation framework. This social innovation framework encourages new opportunities and investigations about the social capital necessary for successful WDM. Influential elements include the knowledge held by WDM practitioners and the social networks in which they are embedded. These...
Article
Full-text available
Water demand management (WDM) practitioners will always need sufficient political will and financial resources to implement their WDM agenda. In addition, however, this research found that those elements, even when supported by a local champion, are insufficient to initiate and sustain municipal WDM. The research results affirmed that social networ...
Article
Reviews of water demand management in the Middle East and in South Africa, two of the most water-challenged areas of the world, show that water demand management is occurring in almost all nations, but without the breadth or strength that is required by their increasingly difficult water situation. It is not absent as a policy goal, but it remains...
Article
This article focuses on the somewhat ambiguous concept of scarce water, or, more accurately stated, on the rather more ambiguous concept of scarcity. Still today, water scarcity in a region is defined largely in physical terms, typically gallons or cubic metres per capita if a stock or per capita-year if a flow. However useful purely physical measu...

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Projects

Project (1)
Project
Apply insights for Terror Management Theory -- specifically the influence of mortality salience and psychological defenses -- to our understanding how people respond to climate change adaptation efforts. Co-author along with my colleague, Dr. Amit Tubi from the Geography department at Hebrew University (Israel)