Promoting environmental friendly behavior of consumers, such as leading them to use sustainable energy or to invest in clean household technology, constitutes one of the biggest policy challenges for societies. However, how to effectively motivate consumers in the domain of energy consumption and conservation remains a highly controversial research topic. The presentation will present the results of two projects focusing on randomized-controlled trials (RCT).
RCT 1 targeted the use of default rules on enrollment into green energy and RCT 2 addressed the efficacy of various decision-frames on advertisement responses regarding intelligent energy monitoring devices. The results of RCT 1 suggest that defaults are highly effective with respect to increasing participation rates in contracts that rely on sustainable energy and the results of RCT 2 show that financial incentives outperform other forms of appeals to the psychological self-concepts of consumers when it comes to the effectiveness of environmental campaigning.
Both RCTs were embedded into the homepage of a nation-wide energy supplier in Germany and the results suggest that using methods and theories stemming from the behavioral sciences prove effective when trying to reach mitigation goals. The results are based on decision-making in a naturally occurring decision-making environment and, therefore, less biased by social desirability as well as experimenter demand effects, which can typically affect the external validity of laboratory research, a problem particularly relevant to climate change mitigation attitudes and behavior of consumers.
Authors: Felix Ebeling and Sebastian Lotz