Sustainable lifestyles and energy consumption

Consumption, mobility and household: these three essential components of modern life are the main sources of our day-to-day energy use. In this project, a phase model was developed in which various measures for promoting and supporting energy-saving lifestyles were put forward.

  • Project description (completed research project)

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    In social psychology and sociology, theories and methods have been developed for visualising differences in behaviour and group-specific behaviour patterns. Identifying such groups means that measures can be allocated more effectively.

  • Aim

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    The aim of the project was to identify “energy-use lifestyle” groups in Lucerne and Biel/Bienne. So that effective areas of influence could be identified empirically, surveys were conducted in groups considered to be representative of the population. These surveys then formed the basis for developing the proposed measures.

  • Results

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    One result of the project is the transfer of the phase model onto energy-use behaviour. The phase model is based on the premise that people go through four phases: In the first, “pre-decision” phase, the subjects are not yet thinking about whether their behaviour should be modified. In the second, “pre-action” phase, an intention starts to form. In the “action” phase, they gather their first experience. And in the fourth, “post-action” phase, the modified behaviour has become a habit.

    A further result is that different types of measures are found to be effective, depending on the phase to which the subjects are assigned. It was found that modified behaviour is based on psychosocial influences such as social and personal norms, emotions or attitudes. “Perceived behaviour control” plays a major role. If a person is not sufficiently fit, for example, he or she will not switch to riding a bicycle. It is possible, however, that such a person may not know about a less steep cycle path or about seasonal electric bike rentals. Measures are then needed for making groups of people aware of such infrastructure or services.

  • Relevance

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    Implication for research

    Traditional scientific approaches often involve the classification of target groups on the basis of socio-demographic attributes such as gender, age, domicile or income. In some cases, this type of segmentation results in the creation of very large and poorly defined target groups.

    Based on psychometric parameters, the project additionally identifies other dimensions of influences, such as attitudes, emotions, subjective norms or perceived behaviour control, and determines their relevance for modified behaviour in the context of energy use.

    Implication for practice

    Successful campaigns are those in which available resources are deployed in a targeted manner such that the “scatter loss” is minimised and the message reaches its target – and thus produce the greatest possible effect. Based on the results, six guideline documents were published for different energy-related spheres of life that are already being actively used by the city authorities in Lucerne and Biel/Bienne to structure their action plans. The guideline documents were also sent to about 40 energy advice centres and authorities. They cover the following thematic areas: “cycling”, “mobile phone use”, “living”, “meat consumption”, “public transport use” and “purchase of used goods”.

  • Original title

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    The lifestyle approach as basis for interventions and campaigns to promote climate-conscious consumption, sustainable mobility and energy conservation in private households