Transformational Media Lab (TML) Director Dr. Beth Karlin was lead author of a report just published by the International Energy Agency Demand Side Management Programme (IEA DSM) Task 24 on Behavior Change. The report, entitled What Do We Know About What We Know? A Review of Behavior-Based Energy Efficiency Data Collection Methodology, presents a methodological review of behavior-based energy intervention studies conducted over the past 10 years to determine what data has been collected and how. Key suggestions include:
- Future research should use standardized measures across a range of key variables. Such measures would enable cross-comparisons to be made across different studies
- The incorporation of questions about context, behaviors, attitudes, knowledge, and user experience can provide researchers with insights into a richer understanding of how and for whom different behavior-based interventions work best.
- Studies would benefit by making better use of mixed methods for data collection. Such data collection allows for triangulation, which can be helpful when trying to get deeper insights into holistic impacts.
- Increased transparency with respect to methods is needed. With only 4 of 85 studies publishing actual evaluation instruments, it is not possible for researchers to replicate, refer to, and build upon existing findings. This is vital for continued growth to improve and aggregate overall knowledge across studies.
- The findings from this report will feed into future work funded by PG&E and SCE, developing a data collection tool that will enable better evaluation of behavior change interventions. It will then be standardized and tested across various cultural contexts as part of Subtask 9 of Phase II of IEA DSM Task 24 (‘Helping the Behaviour Changers’). Country participation for this phase is still open, and a major benefit to participating countries will be to have access to this tool and take part in testing and co-creating country-specific modifications, if necessary.
The report is co-authored by Dr. Rebecca Ford (University of Otago, New Zealand), Dr. Cindy Frantz (Oberlin College) and two TML undergraduate research associates, Veronica Nasser and Alyssa Wu, and supported by Task 24 Co-Operating agents Dr. Sea Rotmann (New Zealand) and Dr. Ruth Mourik (Netherlands). More info can be found at the IEA DSM website, and the full report is available for direct download.