What Psychology Knows about Energy Conservation

Stern, P. C. (1992). What psychology knows about energy conservation. American Psychologist, 47, 10, 1224-1232.

Psychological research in the 1970s and early 1980s contributed to understanding the determinants of energy use and energy conservation, particularly in households. This article reviews these contributions and sketches some implications for research in the 1990s. Psychological studies show that information and money, 2 of the major policy tools for conservation, are more complex and multidimensional than standard technical economic policy analysis assumes and that money is not the only important motive for conservation. These insights can be used to improve the implementation of energy conservation programs, but to have their insights applied, psychologists will need to communicate them in language familiar to policymakers.

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