Dr. Karlijn van den Broek

Dr. Karlijn van den Broek

Universitair docent
Organisations and Sustainability

Karlijn van den Broek is an Assistant Professor at the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University. She is an environmental psychologist focusing on people's understanding of the complexity of environmental problems (mental models) and how this understanding influences decision-making and pro-environmental behaviour.


Karlijn founded the Sustainable Behaviour Group, a special interest group within the Copernicus Institute where researchers from different disciplines unite to study the human dimensions of sustainable transitions. 


  She has developed M-Tool, an app for capturing mental models. This is the first tool that offers a standardized  approach that does not require participants literacy to elicit mental models to: 

1) compare mental models between stakeholders,
2) compare mental models with the true state of a system,
3) measure a change in mental models over time,
4) initiate a dialogue between stakeholders on the functioning of a system and how to address challenges within the system.

M-Tool can be downloaded for free online. Researchers can tailor the app to capture mental models of any complex system.


Other ongoing research:

  • Eco-anxiety among youth
  • Investigating policy maker's understanding of IPCC graphs 
  • The role of mental models in sustainable transitions
  • The link between exposure to climate change information in the media and mental health

She is an alumnus of the Postdoc Academy for Transformational Leadership, which trains the next generation of leaders in sustainability and transformation research in Europe.


She is an associate editor for the journal Global Environmental Psychology.