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Process matters: Assessing the use of behavioural science methods in applied behavioural programmes

Panel: 4. Monitoring and evaluation for a wise, just and inclusive transition

This is a peer-reviewed paper.

Beth Karlin, See Change Institute, USA
Sea Rotmann, SEA - Sustainable Energy Advice Ltd, New Zealand, New Zealand
Kira Ashby, Consortium for Energy Efficiency, US
Luis Mundaca, Lund University, Sweden
Danielle Butler, National Energy Action, UK, United Kingdom
Miguel Macias Sequeira, CENSE, FCT-NOVA, Portugal
Pedro João Gouveia, CENSE, FCT-NOVA, Portugal
Pedro Palma, CENSE, FCT-NOVA, Portugal
Anna Realini, RSE, Italy
Simone Maggiore, RSE, Italy


Behavioural science methods have significant potential to help policy makers, practitioners and energy programme managers design, implement and evaluate behavioural campaigns addressing hard-to-reach (HTR) energy users. But when facing budget and logistic constraints, how many real-life programmes actually follow through? How are behavioural science methods actually applied in a real-world setting? This paper presents a scientific process for behaviour change programmes – the “Building Blocks of Behaviour Change” – and analyses 19 case studies from seven countries to see how many are actually utilising these methods in practice. The case studies focus specifically on HTR energy users and the authors also share their perspectives in feasibility and acceptability of utilising such a process in their work.

We found that most programmes utilised some behavioural science research methods, but few followed a full scientific “best practice” process. Limitations of this study include selection bias (the case studies for analysis were chosen by country experts), design issues and some missing data in the cases with regards to exact methods employed. But it is the first study of its kind, to our knowledge, that takes a look at the extent of how scientific methods are being applied in the real world with HTR energy users. Based on this comparative analysis of the cases and feedback from the case study authors, we present recommendations on how programmes can continue to realistically integrate best practice methods into their programmes while also meeting budget, competency, and timeline constraints.


Download this paper as pdf: 4-227-22_Karlin.pdf