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What psychology knows about energy conservation: from theory to practice


Research suggests that about 20% of greenhouse gas emissions from households could be reduced via behavioural changes (Dietz et al., 2009). Yet – energy conservation via behavioural changes can be difficult to achieve. The two most commonly used behaviour change interventions – information provision and financial incentives – are not always as effective as sometimes assumed. In this presentation, I will provide a brief overview of the ways in which theoretical and applied research from psychology contributes to our understanding of how to (more) effectively encourage energy conservation via behavioural changes. I will use illustrative examples from my own research, including my work on energy audits, tailored information, and the use of social influence.


Wokje Abrahamse is Senior Lecturer in the Environmental Studies programme at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. Wokje is an environmental psychologist and her research focuses on (i) understanding people’s motivations for engaging in pro-environmental behaviours and (ii) examining the effectiveness of behaviour change interventions. She has been involved in a number of research projects in the domain of domestic energy conservation.

Wokje has a PhD in Social and Behavioural Sciences from the University of Groningen (the Netherlands), and has held postdoctoral positions at the University of Surrey (UK), University of Otago (NZ) and the University of Victoria (Canada).