PsyCAP: Applied Psychology Research Team

The PsyCAP research team studies and furthers our understanding of individual behaviour in an effort to support change, whether caused by the digital revolution, or brought about by climate change. Conducting research across a range of fields, it has a particular interest in issues relevant to Cerema’s work in Mobility, Construction, Environment and Risks, and Sea and Coast.

Challenges for society

Our society is in a period of profound change: the pandemic, the digital revolution, climate change... And yet, individuals are central to these changes: they are subjected to them, benefit from them, and instigate them. Cohort studies reveal that the transformations brought about by digital technology may affect a large number of jobs: almost 10% of jobs are at high risk of automation or becoming obsolete (Le Ru, 2016; OECD, 2016), half of jobs in France may undergo major changes in the near future (COE, 2017), and 60% of jobs that will be available in 2030 do not yet exist today (WagePoint, 2015; cited by Okamba, 2018). Beyond statistics, digital technology is also calling into question activities that we thought only people could do, like art or justice, and is profoundly changing how we relate to other people and certain concepts.

From a climate change point of view, it has finally been admitted, after years of debate, that the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is a result of human activity, and this increase is having unprecedented effects on energy, water, geostrategic stability, population movements, and ecosystems... (ADEME, 2019) to the point that some researchers are now talking about the “Anthropocene era” (Crutzen & Stoermer, 2000). These changes pose enormous challenges: if we want to stop the process that is now underway, then we must change the way we do things, both as individuals and on the level of entire systems. But reducing greenhouse gas emissions will not be enough to stop the changes that have already begun. According to the IPCC, they will continue to be felt long after the year 2100 (IPCC, 2015). As a result, current infrastructure and investment, and all human activity, must take future developments into account and learn to adapt to them (ADEME, 2019).

Scientific approach

Faced with these changes, the question of behaviour seems to be a crucial matter, whether that’s in terms of observing and understanding behaviours, changing them, or facilitating change by supporting individuals and institutions. But behavioural sciences in general, and psychology in particular, are ideally situated to provide answers to these questions, and are playing an increasingly important role. Likewise, they also provide support for innovation. Indeed, the Global Innovation Index (GII) has made “human capital” one of the seven pillars of innovation, and notes “the considerable impact of the human factor which, beyond just innovation, plays a fundamental role in how innovation is received, accepted, and spreads”. Indeed, it’s not enough that a product or technology be designed in line with the best current standards, or is endowed with optimal ergonomics and positively reviewed by most people. For people to buy and use the product, the system also has to find a place in how people think and in individual behaviours (Bordel & Somat, 2015).

Expected results

The PsyCAP Team’s scientific objectives are as follows:

  • To study and analyse human behaviour, to understand and predict it
  • Better understand and promote individual and social acceptance of innovative developments (techniques, technologies, services and structures)
  • Produce knowledge and methods to support the changes incurred by technological and/or structural evolutions and innovation.

More specifically, the team is researching objective (observable) and subjective (as reported by individuals) behaviours, drawing on its expertise in cognitive sciences and social psychology for a complementary approach to behaviour.


The researchers on our PsyCAP Team are research fellows at the Psychology Lab – Cognition, Behaviour, Communication (LP3C) (based at the Université Rennes 2, Université Bretagne Occidentale and Université Bretagne Sud) (

The team also works with:

  • scientific partners: CNRS, CSTB, ESTACA, IRCAM, VEDECOM Institute, Lab, Université Gustave Eiffel, Université de Toulouse Jean Jaurès, Université Grenoble Alpes, Université Savoie Mont Blanc…
  • highway managers: APRR, CD22, CD35, DIR Ouest, DIRA, DIRIF, Vinci Autoroutes…
  • industry partners: Renault, Stellantis, TwinswHeel, Colas, Aximum, Neavia…
  • regional stakeholders: Côtes-d’Armor Chamber of Trades and Artisans, Véhipôle, CCI Bretagne, Leadership of Coastal Departments (DDTM) 22, 29, 35 and 56, and the regional department for the environment, urban planning, and housing (DREAL) in Brittany…
Latest publications
Theses under way

Kévin Nadarajah
Thesis title: “Stakeholder commitment to the energy transition”
Supervisors: Prof. Alain Somat (Université Rennes 2) et Stéphanie Bordel (Cerema)
Doctoral school: Education, language, interactions, cognition, clinical Scheduled viva date: late 2022

Theses submitted

Mehdi Chahir
Thesis title: “Proposal and assessment of a method to support the change caused by the roll-out of new technology within organisations”.
Supervisors: Prof. Alain Somat (Université Rennes 2) et Stéphanie Bordel (Cerema)
Doctoral School: Education, language, interactions, cognition, clinical Scheduled viva date: 27 September 2021

Team manager
Deputy manager
Christine Bourgeais
Assistante de recherche
Team members
Christine Bourgeais
Assistante de recherche
Renaldo Gritti
Marlène Bel
Ingénieure de recherche
Mehdi Chahir
Kévin Nadarajah
Formulaire de contact

PsyCAP: Applied Psychology Research Team

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