Alternative streams of research should now inform environmental policymaking aimed at behaviour change, according to a new report. ‘Influences on consumer behaviour: policy implications beyond nudging’, produced for the European Commission, argues that environmental policymaking should consider behavioural economics, psychology and sociology. Read more…
Many policy interventions supply information to consumers to influence their decision (for example, energy labelling), but have had mixed results. Emerging scientific work on behaviour influences refutes the notion that more information enables people to make the correct decisions and reveals it can actually reduce a consumer’s ability to make satisfying choices. Decisions are fundamentally complex, with an array of choices, uncertainties, aversions and needs to balance. The report argues environmental policymaking should be re-assessed in light of this complexity.
The report discusses the influences of biases and framing, the roles of values and social norms, and physical infrastructures in shaping behavioural outcomes. A range of factors affecting consumers’ decisions, including numerous situational and behavioural dimensions, are considered.
The report also recommends a set of potential future policy options. These include providing householders with more information on average energy spending, displaying life-cycle costs at the point of sale for energy products and changing public infrastructure where key behaviours take place.
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