Getting people to do what[p2] you want is all about incentivising them isn’t it? If you offer people money to do something they will do it and if you fine them for not doing something they won’t do it. Simple and completely logical; after all its basic economics. The problem is, at an individual level, the effect of incentives to motivate behaviour is completely unreliable. For instance, when a blood bank in Switzerland wanted to increase the donation rate it offered a small monetary incentive to people, against all expectations the donation rate actually fell.
Dan Ariely’s fantastic book ‘Predictably Irrational’ [p3] explores how people’s behaviour can often differ from the rational across a range of situations and it is insights such as these which have led to the creation of the field of behavioural economics. [p4]
There has been a great deal of recent interest in applying behavioural economic principles to the built environment in an attempt to reduce people’s energy use[p5] . The problem is many companies or organisations who understand the principles of behavioural economics still seem obsessed with emphasising the amount of money people can potentially save. This may be actually limiting the effectiveness of behaviour change interventions. To find out why come and listen to myself (Richard Tetlow) and Kevin Couling talk about influencing user behaviour in non-domestic buildings at Ecobuild at 12:30 Wednesday 6th March.[p6]