Posted: March 24, 2011 By: Comments: 0

Smart Living

Alongside externally-funded projects, I have contributed to additional research in Horizon relating to the Psychology of energy consumption and feedback. More specifically I have developed web applications and interface prototypes to allow Psychologists to explore how the framing of feedback to consumers affects their behaviour, and how the attribution of responsibility in feedback affects the behaviour of groups of communal consumers.

In May 2011 Alexa Spence and I were featured in a report on Environmental Psychology for France 24 (see below); in April 2012 I was invited to give a talk explaining the links between Psychology research and design at IBM’s Software Client Architect Exchange.

“Green Nudges” on France 24

I developed the Home Energy Calculator as a tool for researchers in Horizon to investigate the effects of framing information about energy consumption. As a web application, Home Energy Calculator allows a user to choose from a wide range of everyday domestic appliances to build a picture of their daily consumption, learning which activities are responsible for the majority of their total energy use. Behind the scenes, the application is customisable, allowing the researchers to frame the information presented to the user in terms of energy, environmental or financial consequences of the use of appliances, and measure how these different framings affect the user’s interaction with the application. A public version of the tool is available here.

Initial results from work related to the Home Energy Calculator have been presented at Environmental Psychology:

  • C. Leygue, A. Spence, C. O’Malley, B. Bedwell, T. Rodden, and D. McAuley, “Energy Displays and Environmental Behavior: The Role of Social Values and Psychological Distance of Climate Change,” in Environmental Psychology, 2011.
        author = {Leygue, Caroline and Spence, Alexa and O'Malley, Claire and Bedwell, Ben and Rodden, Tom and McAuley, Derek},
        booktitle = {Environmental Psychology},
        citeulike-article-id = {9347852},
        month = sep,
        posted-at = {2011-05-29 11:56:37},
        priority = {2},
        title = {Energy Displays and Environmental Behavior: The Role of Social Values and Psychological Distance of Climate Change},
        year = {2011}

I also produced a web-based simulator for communal energy displays to allow researchers to carry out experiments into the effects of data feedback on communal consumers (e.g. in shared student homes). The aim with this tool was to be able to judge how an individual altered their energy consumption in a shared home after receiving different forms of feedback on the consumption of the others they are sharing with.

Results from these experiments have been presented at the Digital Economy all-hands conference:

  • A. Skatova, C. Leygue, A. Spence, B. Bedwell, E. Walczak, and E. Ferguson, “Communal Energy Displays: The Role of Emotions in Environmental Decisions,” in Digital Futures, 2012.
        author = {Skatova, Anya and Leygue, Caroline and Spence, Alexa and Bedwell, Ben and Walczak, Eryk and Ferguson, Eamonn},
        booktitle = {Digital Futures},
        citeulike-article-id = {11701884},
        location = {Aberdeen, UK},
        month = oct,
        posted-at = {2012-11-16 14:39:44},
        priority = {2},
        title = {Communal Energy Displays: The Role of Emotions in Environmental Decisions},
        year = {2012}
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