Steve Westlake

Cardiff University

PhD Researcher


Steve is a PhD researcher exploring how leading by example with strong pro-environmental behaviour can influence the attitudes and behaviour of others. For instance, when someone high profile like Greta Thunberg stops flying because of climate change, how does this affect our thinking and our actions? And what if a politician or celebrity chooses to have only one child because of climate change, or a local community leader gives up their car to reduce their environmental impact? Underpinning the research is the idea that “action is communication”.

This research aims to provide insights into how social influence and leadership can feed into the rapid transition to more sustainable lifestyles, by shifting social norms. The research contributes to the ongoing debates about “individual action versus systems change”, but with a particular focus on differentials in power, agency and personal consumption levels. It draws on theories of social influence, cultural evolution, leadership theory and practice theory.



Westlake (2018) “A Counter-Narrative to Carbon Supremacy: Do Leaders Who Give Up Flying Because of Climate Change Influence the Attitudes and Behaviour of Others?” Available at this link.



The Conversation: Climate change: yes, your individual action does make a difference (Westlake, 2019)

The Independent: How even the smallest act can help fight climate change (Westlake, 2019)


Contact information


Twitter: @steviedubyu