Combining theories and methods from psychology, affective sciences, behavioral economics, and neuroscience, we investigate the role of factors such as emotions, values, cognitive heuristics, and implicit biases in the domain of sustainable behavior: How do my values influence my evaluation of the risks related to renewable energy technologies? Which emotions contribute to my willingness to consume more (or less) sustainably? How are my purchase decisions influenced by the way the information about the products are presented? We study these questions with laboratory experiments as well as with large-scale online experiments and big data analytics. To understand the neurocognitive mechanisms driving decision-making, we combine behavioral choice measures with measures of physiology and brain activation.
We moreover aim to translate this knowledge into concrete interventions in the real world. In the context of the Swiss “Energy Strategy 2050” the federal council and the parliament have advanced the ambitious goal that energy use in Switzerland should be reduced by 35%. Collaborating with federal institutions (e.g., the Federal Office of Energy) and commercial enterprises (e.g., energy providers), we develop and evaluate programs aiming at contributing to these goals. We are also part of the Swiss Competence Center for Research in Energy, Society and Transition.