Information has not been proven a very successful means to promote voluntary behaviour change to protect the environment. On this backcloth, there is currently increasing interest in recommendations from behavioural economics focusing on making the choice architecture more facilitating for the desired behaviour. The authors present three studies demonstrating how mental shortcuts, based on subtle cues in the context, unconsciously influence human decision-making, with important consequences for the environment. Two of our own studies illustrate the behavioural impacts of (a) anchoring (the design of the European energy label) and (b) default effect (the framing of a request to participate in the Smart Grid), and data from Göckeritz et al. (Eur J Soc Psych 40:514-523, 2010) are used to illustrate the impacts of (c) herding or descriptive norms (the social context of energy saving). The authors end by pointing at theoretical weaknesses in behavioural economics and calling for research to strengthening the theoretical underpinnings of this approach to behaviour change.
Journal of Consumer Policy, 2014, Vol 37, Issue 3, p. 341-356
Environmental policy; Information; Nudging; Energy labelling; SmartGrid; Energy saving