A Review and Critique of Energy Research in Psychology

Stern, P. & Gardner, G. T. (1980). A review and critique of energy research in psychology. Social Science Energy Review, 3, 1, 1-71.

This paper summarizes the main streams of existing psychological research relating to energy policy issues, evaluates the mainstream research, and then steps back for a broader view of the efforts to date. It finds that because psychological research in the U.S. has usually not derived from an analysis of the energy system, psychologists have often invested much effort in producing behavioral changes that can have only limited impact while ignoring changes with much greater practical potential. The paper outlines neglected major research areas where psychologists could have a significant impact on the energy situation. Finally, it discusses more general issues, such as the possible applied roles for psychology in energy policy, the basic psychological research issues that have bearing on energy policy, and the need for psychologists to consider broad societal trends, including the coming transition from the present energy system to a sustainable one in the future.

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