Cynthia (Cindy) Frantz

  • Professor of Psychology and Environmental Studies

Areas of Study


  • BA, Williams College, 1991
  • MS, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 1996
  • PhD, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2000


I am a social and environmental psychologist with a strong interest in statistics. I teach social psychology, and an advanced seminar on the psychology of social conflict. My research focuses broadly on humans’ relationship with the natural world, with an emphasis on promoting sustainable behavior.

Past research in collaboration with Steve Mayer suggests that both individuals and the environment benefit when people feel connected to the natural world. With Professors John Petersen, Rumi Shammin, and Deborah Roose, I study the potential for feedback technology ( ) to encourage conservation behavior, connect humans back to the natural world, and promote systems thinking. I also direct the Community-Based Social Marketing Research Project, a collaborative research program among faculty, students, and staff to develop, test, and promote behavior change programs that reduce Oberlin College’s carbon emissions.

  • Frantz, C. M., Petersen, J.E., & *Lucaites, K. (2021). Novel approach to delivering pro-environmental messages significantly shifts norms and motivation, but children are not more effective spokespeople than adults. PLoS ONE 16(9): e0255457.
  • Petersen, J.E., C.M. Frantz, *E. Tincknell, *C. Canning (2018). Systems thinking is enhanced in response to an animated visual representation of real-time resource flows through a community. Systems Research and Behavioral Science, 35(6),718 – 737. DOI: 10.1002/sres.2514.
  • Clark S, Petersen J.E., Frantz C.M., Roose D., *Ginn J., Rosenberg Daneri D. (2017) Teaching systems thinking to 4th and 5th graders using Environmental Dashboard display technology. PLoS ONE 12(4): e0176322.
  • Thibodeau, P., Frantz, C. M., & *Berretta, M. (2017). The earth is our home: systemic metaphors to redefine our relationship with nature. Climatic Change, 142, 287–300. DOI:10.1007/s10584-017-1926-z
  • Petersen, J. E., Rosenberg Daneri, D., Frantz, C. M., & Shammin, Md. R. (2017). Environmental Dashboards: Fostering pro-environmental and pro-community thought and action through feedback. In W. Leal Filho et al. (eds.), Handbook of Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development in Higher Education, World Sustainability Series, 149-168. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-47895-1_10.
  • Thibodeau, P. H., *Winneg, A., Frantz, C. M, & Flusberg, S. J. (2016). The mind is an ecosystem: Systemic metaphors promote systems thinking. Metaphor & The Social World, 6(2), 225 – 242.
  • Thibodeau, P.H., Frantz, C.M., Stroink, M.L. (2016). Situating a measure of systems thinking in a landscape of psychological constructs. Systems Research and Behavioral Science, 33(6),.  753-769
  • Frantz, C.M., Flynn, B., *Atwood, S., *Mostow, D., *Lang, C. & *Kahl, S. (2016). Changing Energy Behavior Through Community Based Social Marketing. In W. L. Filho & M. Zint (Eds.), The Contribution of Social Sciences to Sustainable Development at Universities (259 – 272). NY, NY: Springer.
  • Petersen, J. E., Frantz, C. M., Shammin, Md. R., *Yanisch, T., *Tincknell, E., & *Myers, N. (2015). Electricity and water use savings on college and university campuses in response to national competitions among dormitories: quantifying relationships between behavior, strategies and psychological metrics. PLOS ONE.
  • Frantz, C. M. (2014). Tapping into core social motives to drive sustainability transformation. The Solutions Journal5,31 – 34.

Spring 2024

Research Methods II — PSYC 300
Seminar in Social Conflict — PSYC 430
Teaching Assistant — PSYC 500
Practicum in Psychology — PSYC 501
Supervised Research in Psychology - Full — PSYC 510F
Supervised Research in Psychology - Half — PSYC 510H
Senior Portfolio — PSYC 599

Fall 2024

Research Methods II — PSYC 300
Advanced Methods in Community-Based Social Marketing — PSYC 308
Teaching Assistant — PSYC 500
Practicum in Psychology — PSYC 501
Supervised Research in Psychology - Full — PSYC 510F
Supervised Research in Psychology - Half — PSYC 510H
Senior Portfolio — PSYC 599


American Psychological Association Presents Cindy Frantz with Fellow Status

December 6, 2021

Professor of Psychology and Environmental Studies Cindy Frantz has been named a Fellow of the American Psychological Association.  Fellow status is an honor bestowed upon APA members who have shown evidence of unusual and outstanding contributions or performance in the field of psychology and requires that a person's work has had a national impact on the field of psychology beyond a local, state, or regional level.

Frantz served as an expert panelist for the Solutions Session at the Behavior, Energy, and Climate Change conference (virtual) on November 9.  The session focused on the question:  How can rural landowners be encouraged to embrace, welcome, and even demand new solar installations, as opposed to protest them?

Frantz presented the talk “Yes we can! How to talk about climate change to inspire action and fight despair” on November 17 to the Lorain County Commmunity College Psi Beta Club.

Cindy Frantz Gives Keynote Address and Talk

April 9, 2019

Professor of Psychology and Environmental Studies Cindy McPherson Frantz gave the Johnson Lecture and Minnesota Psychological Association's keynote address on April 3, 2019 at Macalaster College.  The talk was titled "What is systems thinking, and does it improve decision making?" She also presented a talk titled "Environmental Dashboard: Using feedback technology to change culture and behavior" on April 4, 2019 at Macalaster College.

Cindy Frantz Gives Keynote Address

July 3, 2018

Professor of Psychology and Environmental Studies Cindy Frantz gave the keynote address on June 20, 2018 at the Nature Connections Conference at the University of Derby in Derby, United Kingdom. Frantz’s talk was titled "Connection to Nature: A Core Social  Motive Approach.”

Cindy Frantz Quoted in Washington Post

November 29, 2017

Professor of Psychology Cindy Frantz was quoted in the Washington Post about the recent tide of apologies made by famous men accused of sexual misconduct.

Cindy Frantz Quoted on Climate Change Communication

December 19, 2016

Professor Cindy Franz is quoted in Yale Climate Connections on climate change communication.

Cindy Frantz Publishes, Gives Invited Talk

September 11, 2015

The article “An Examination of Gender Differences in the American Fisheries Society’s Peer Review Process,” co-authored by Professor of Psychology Cindy Frantz and Grace Handley ’12, has been published in the September issue of Fisheries, an American Fisheries Society publication. According to Frantz, she and Handley found gender differences but no evidence for gender bias on the part of editors and reviewers.

Frantz also delivered the invited talk "Metaphors as Magic Bullets? Harnessing Psychological Science to Promote Sustainability" on September 7 at Davidson College.

Cindy Frantz American Psychological Association Convention Talks

August 27, 2015

Professor of Psychology Cindy Frantz gave two talks in August at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association in Toronto.

The first talk, “Using Technology to Transform Environmental Norms, Identity, and Behavior,” was part of a symposium with David Miller, Toronto mayor from 2003-2010 and current World Wildlife Fund Canada president and CEO. The second talk, “What Is Systems Thinking and How Shall We Measure It? An Introduction,” was part of a symposium Frantz chaired, titled “The psychology of systems thinking: Implications for decision making, policy, and practice.”

Cindy Frantz Gives Talk

July 9, 2015

Professor of Psychology Cindy Frantz gave the talk "Harnessing the most powerful drivers of human behavior to promote wildlife conservation" at the USC Conference on Conservation, Computation, & Criminology (C4) on June 29, 2015, in Washington DC. The talk discussed how powerful motivations that are not in individuals’ economic or biological best interests can be harnessed to promote the protection of forests, fisheries, and wildlife.

Cindy Frantz Gives Talks, Receives Grant

April 28, 2015

Professor of Psychology Cindy Frantz, currently a visiting scholar at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, has given two invited talks at her host university.

The first talk, titled “Environmental Dashboard: Combining public displays of real-time resource use with community voices to engage, empower, and celebrate stewardship” was given at University of Otago’s Centre for Sustainability's seminar series on April 16. The second talk, titled “Why do humans benefit from nature? An argument for the need to belong.” was given at the University of Otago’s Psychology Seminar series on April 20.

Frantz—along with Paul Thibodeau, assistant professor of psychology; John Petersen, director of environmental studies and Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of environmental studies; and Rumi Shammin, associate professor of environmental studies—has also been awarded a National Science Foundation grant from the Decision, Risk, and Management Sciences program for $329,325.

The grant focuses on systems thinking, a way of conceptualizing reality and making decisions that emphasizes relationships and interdependencies. Their research will empirically test the contention that systems thinking improves decision making. It will also test whether mental models, such as metaphors, can induce a systems thinking mindset and whether decision makers must value the system in question for systems thinking to have beneficial effects on decision making.

Cindy Frantz and Stephen Mayer Publish Article in Journal of Social Issues

May 19, 2014

Associate Professor of Psychology Cindy Frantz and Professor of Psychology Stephen Mayer published an article entitled “The Emergence of Climate Change.” The article appears in the Journal of Social Issues, a publication of the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues. It explores the psychology behind the disparities between the scientific consensus on climate change and people’s willingness to recognize and respond to it.

Cindy Frantz Receives Teaching Award

May 7, 2014

Associate Professor of Psychology Cindy Frantz has received the 2014 Outstanding Teaching and Mentoring Award from the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI). Her award citation made note of her classroom application of psychological theories to current social issues and her guidance of student research. The SPSSI also invited to speak at the this summer at the 2014 SPSSI Conference in a special SPSSI teaching session.


Survivor Mentality

May 16, 2023

Emma Hart traverses the globe to stem the tide of gender-based violence.