Determinants of Household Decisions and Behaviour

  • Contact:

    Prof. Ellen Matthies, project manager

  • Project Group:

    Prof. Ellen Matthies, Martin Achtnicht, Oliver Arnold, Sophia Becker, Prof. Florian Kaiser, Ingo Kastner,  Alexandra Kibbe, Dr. Birgit Mack,  Malte Nachreiner, Dr. Klaus Rennings, Jessica Schröter, Karolin Tampe-Mai, Roland Kube, Prof. Andreas Löschel

  • Partner:

    Workgroup on Environmental Psychology, Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg

    ZIRIUS, Research Center on Interdisciplinary Risk and Innovation Studies, University of Stuttgart

    Environmental and Resource Economics, Environmental Management, Centre for European Economic Research

    Chair for Energy and Resource Economics, University of Münster

While investigating conditions that influence energy demand in private households, the project “Determinants of Household Decisions and Behaviour” focusses on the perspective of identifying starting-points for management tools. Although in most studies income and household size have been identified as statistically relevant determinants for energy consumption, those “drivers” of consumption are not eligible as starting-points for measures from a socio-political point of view. Thus, it is essential to search for further determinants and moderators in particular – that is, conditions under which increased income and household size will not lead to an increase in consumption. Previous studies attest high variability in household energy consumption patterns and ascribe these to substantial differences in user behavior (OECD, 2009, p 107f).
With regard to starting-points for measures, in a range of sub-projects we examine the conditions under which households invest in energy efficiency refurbishments or energy efficient technology and therefore use the product or service more efficiently (conditions of rebound effects) or even restrict their usage behavior (conditions of curtailment). Individual sub-projects take into account situational moderators, especially recent changes in the energy system, in particular interactive feedback systems or smart meters (support of sufficiency), energy efficient cars (investment decisions and rebound), as well as changed contexts for energy efficiency refurbishments (e.g. by new incentive based instruments ). As internal motivational moderators, an intrinsic disposition for environmental protection and expectations of self-efficacy are examined more closely. With regard to widespread public attention to increases in electricity prices and thus a possible burden on all households, one of the sub-projects assesses electricity saving potentials in different types of households and systematically examines conditions under which motivated households can optimize their energy consumption. Literature cited in the text:
OECD: Energy supply per capita. In OECD Factbook 2008: Economic, Environmental and Social Statistics. OECD Publishing, (2009). 


project-related paper 

Achtnicht, M.; Madlener, R.:  Factors influencing German house owners' preferences on energy retrofits. Energy Policy 68 (2014), pp. 254-263.
DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2014.01.006

*Kastner, I.; Matthies, E.: Implementing web-based interventions to promote energy efficient behavior at organizations - a multi-level challenge. Journal of Cleaner Production 62:1 (2014), pp. 89-97.
DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2013.05.030

*Klöckner, C.A.; Sopha, B.M.; Matthies, E.; Bjørnstad, E.: Energy efficiency in Norwegian households - identifying motivators and barriers with a focus group approach. International Journal of Environment and Sustainable Development 12 (2013), pp. 396-415.

Matthies, E.; Wallis, H.: Family socialization and sustainable consumption. In: L. Reisch & J. Thøgersen (eds.), Handbook of Research on Sustainable Consumption, (in press). Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing

Otto, S.; Kaiser, F. G.; Arnold, O.: The critical challenge of climate change for psychology: Preventing rebound and promoting more individual irrationality. European Psychologist 19 (2014), pp. 96-106.
doi: 10.1027/1016-9040/a000182