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Motivating Change: Research theory and engagement principles


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Dr Wokje Abrahamse of Otago University and Dr Lauren Christie of Victoria University of Wellington present their views of research theory and engagement principles. Wokje introduces the theoretical barriers to change and discusses the results from a systematic review of 38 studies to determine the effect of interventions designed to conserve household energy use.

Given the findings from her PhD research, Lauren introduces five key principles that should be used when designing interventions to encourage the uptake of energy efficiency technologies. Both Wokje and Lauren conclude that in each and every case, 1 – the specific barriers to change for that target group and problem need to be understood first, and 2 – that a combination of approaches should be used.

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Motivating Change: Research theory and engagement principles

  1. 1. Motivating Change Research Theory and Engagement Principles Wokje Abrahamse (NZ Centre for Sustainable Cities) Lauren Christie (Victoria University of Wellington)
  2. 2. Behaviour change… <ul><li>Barriers to change </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Habit </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Quality of life/lifestyle </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Short-term effort/long-term benefits </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Technology (lack thereof) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conflicting information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Systematic review of 38 intervention studies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Abrahamse, W., Steg, L., Vlek, C., & Rothengatter, T. (2005). A review of intervention studies aimed at household energy conservation. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 25, 273-291. </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Effectiveness of interventions <ul><li>Effects in terms of behaviour change rather small </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Information: increased awareness, but no behaviour change </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Effect of a combination of interventions generally larger than when single intervention is used </li></ul><ul><li>Long-term effects? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Financial incentives: effective, but only for the duration of the intervention </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Unintended effects </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Feedback: Low energy consumers increased energy use after receiving feedback </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Intervention planning <ul><li>DO IT model (Geller, 2002) </li></ul><ul><li>Define Which behaviours need to change? </li></ul><ul><li>- environmental impact </li></ul><ul><li>Observe What are the baseline levels? </li></ul><ul><li>- pre/post-intervention and control group </li></ul><ul><li>Intervene Which interventions are suitable? </li></ul><ul><li>- information, feedback, etc </li></ul><ul><li>Test Was the intervention effective? </li></ul><ul><li>- changes in behaviours/attitudes/awareness </li></ul>
  5. 5. Encouraging behaviour change <ul><li>Interventions need to be carefully planned </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Target group/target behaviour </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Interventions need to be part of wider approaches </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Combination of interventions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>People have different barriers to change </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Interventions should be strongly rooted in theory </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Understanding barriers to change (e.g. risk perceptions, social norms) </li></ul></ul>
  6. 7. Source:
  7. 8. Financial Risks Source:
  8. 9. Functional Risks Source:
  9. 10. Social Risks Source:
  10. 11. Source:
  11. 12. 1. Reframe the perception of a change and a risk Source:
  12. 13. 2. Encourage the market to value (energy efficiency) Source:
  13. 14. 3. Guarantee performance and compatibility with existing lifestyles Source:
  14. 15. 4. Reduce the complexity of the decision and instil confidence Source:
  15. 16. 5. Make it the norm Source:
  16. 17. Overall Conclusions 1. Understand the specific barriers to change 2. Use a combination of approaches Source:
  17. 18. Contact Details <ul><li>Wokje Abrahamse </li></ul><ul><li>NZ Centre for Sustainable Cities </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Lauren Christie </li></ul><ul><li>Victoria University of Wellington </li></ul><ul><li> [email_address] </li></ul>