“Efficiency is a machine. Conservation is action.”: Culture and Behavior

Behavior change is a function of a number of things, including but not limited to, information and understanding, a motivation, resources to act, perceptions of efficacy, social environment, and also…culture, the topic of this post.

I mentioned culture in my post on social norming as something that can affect the strength of social norms in a community.  Culture also plays a role on its own on how we perceive, create value, and act.  It is more pervasive that social influences.  Culture encompasses our history, what we value, and how we create meaning in our lives.  It is what we believe and how we express our beliefs (definition).

“Culture is about shared meanings.  …Meanings can only be shared through our common access to language. So language is central to meaning and culture and has always been regarded as the key repository of cultural values and meanings.“ – Stuart Hall, cultural theorist

To understand the cultural aspects of energy use, Opinion Dynamics conducted an ethnographic study that involved 136 in-depth interviews in homes across California.  The goal was to identify the drivers and barriers to positive energy behavior by looking at language use, behavioral choice, and physical and social environment.

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Everyone is doing more to save energy!

As I looked through my fellow fellows’ Monthly Reports, I realized I hadn’t fully documented some of my activities.  This post is a summary and “catch-up”.  And what I’ve found is a lot of care and energy around helping people over the hurdles of behavior change to live more energy-efficient and sustainable lives.  Everyone is doing more to save energy (but we need to do a whole lot more to show what everyone is doing!)  Here’s the latest… Continue reading

A Game-Changer: Construction company builds sustainability in their workplace

On Friday, I had a wonderful conversation with Kathy Kuntz from Cool Choices in Madison, WI, in which I learned about the success they have found with an energy efficiency game in a construction corporation.

Kathy and I connected a year ago after both attending the Fostering and Sustainable Behavior Workshop in Milwaukee, WI.  Since then, we have both been working on applying concepts of behavior change around energy.  Below are a few reflections on our conversation, some helpful findings, and valuable thoughts!

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