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The Impact of Behavioral Science Experiments on Energy Policy


  • Robert Hahn and Robert Metcalfe


One of the most exciting areas of research today is the use of experiments informed by behavioral science to understand how to change energy consumption decisions of consumers. This article provides a survey and synthesis of experiments and focuses on general principles that can be gleaned from these experiments to date. We identify four general insights from the literature. First, the "law of demand" is typically satisfied in experimental settings, but responsiveness to energy price changes can vary dramatically in different contexts. Second, information provision can help promote reductions in energy use, but it does not always work. Third, the use of social norms can change energy use. Finally, the economic welfare impacts of behavioral interventions aimed at promoting either energy conservation or energy efficiency are not well understood, but initial research suggests that some people want nudges and some do not. The essay also identifies a number of areas for future research.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert Hahn and Robert Metcalfe, 2016. "The Impact of Behavioral Science Experiments on Energy Policy," Economics of Energy & Environmental Policy, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 2).
  • Handle: RePEc:aen:eeepjl:eeep5-2-hahn

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    Cited by:

    1. Mattauch, Linus & Hepburn, Cameron & Spuler, Fiona & Stern, Nicholas, 2022. "The economics of climate change with endogenous preferences," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(C).
    2. Linus Mattauch & Cameron Hepburn & Nicholas Stern, 2018. "Pigou Pushes Preferences: Decarbonisation and Endogenous Values," CESifo Working Paper Series 7404, CESifo.
    3. Céline Nauges & Dale Whittington, 2019. "Social Norms Information Treatments in the Municipal Water Supply Sector: Some New Insights on Benefits and Costs," Water Economics and Policy (WEP), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 5(03), pages 1-40, July.
    4. Loureiro, Maria & Labandeira, Xavier, 2019. "Exploring Energy Use in Retail Stores: A Field Experiment," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(S1).
    5. Hancevic, Pedro Ignacio & Lopez-Aguilar, Javier Alejandro, 2019. "Energy efficiency programs in the context of increasing block tariffs: The case of residential electricity in Mexico," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 320-331.
    6. Werner, Peter & Riedl, Arno, 2018. "The role of experiments for policy design," Research Memorandum 022, Maastricht University, Graduate School of Business and Economics (GSBE).
    7. Maya Papineau, 2017. "Energy Efficiency Premiums in Unlabeled Office Buildings," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 4).
    8. Yokessa, Maïmouna & Marette, Stéphan, 2019. "A Review of Eco-labels and their Economic Impact," International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics, now publishers, vol. 13(1-2), pages 119-163, April.
    9. Hoffmann, Christin & Thommes, Kirsten, 2020. "Can digital feedback increase employee performance and energy efficiency in firms? Evidence from a field experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 180(C), pages 49-65.
    10. Labandeira, Xavier & Labeaga, José M. & Linares, Pedro & López-Otero, Xiral, 2020. "The impacts of energy efficiency policies: Meta-analysis," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 147(C).
    11. Robert Hahn & Robert Metcalfe & Florian Rundhammer, 2020. "Promoting customer engagement: A new trend in utility regulation," Regulation & Governance, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 14(1), pages 121-149, January.
    12. Giulietti, Monica & Le Coq, Chloé & Willems, Bert & Anaya, Karim, 2019. "Smart Consumers in the Internet of Energy : Flexibility Markets & Services from Distributed Energy Resources," Other publications TiSEM 2edb43b5-bbd6-487d-abdf-7, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    13. Toke R. Fosgaard & Alice Pizzo & Sally Sadoff, 2021. "Do People Respond to the Climate Impact of their Behavior? The Effect of Carbon Footprint Information on Grocery Purchases," IFRO Working Paper 2021/05, University of Copenhagen, Department of Food and Resource Economics.

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    JEL classification:

    • F0 - International Economics - - General


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