Sensors & Behavior (ARPA-E) > Behavioral Interventions

Motivationally framed Facebook applications

This project built, tested and diffused three energy reduction applications on Facebook to stimulate a body of work that uses design and behavioral principles to advance innovations regarding energy reduction.

Affective, Cognitive, and Social Facebook Applications

Investigators: Banny Banerjee, June Flora, Nishant Bhansali, Nicole Greenspan, Ollie Khakwana, Alexandra Liptsey-Rahe, Brett Madres, Ann Manley, Issra Omer, Nikhil Rajendra, Anshuman Sahoo,  Annie Scalmanini, Brian Wong, Shaun Stehly, Dave Voelker

This project collected data to drive hypotheses rather than vice versa, and explored peoples’ motivations for engaging with their energy use.  The applications developed were based on three key motivations for energy engagement: affective, cognitive and social. Kidogo, the affective app, connected energy savings to financial contributions to issues other than energy that the consumer might be more emotional about, such as global poverty.  Power Bar, the cognitive app, was designed for people who are motivated by data about their home’s energy expenditure, coupled with goal setting for energy savings and feedback regarding whether the target is likely to be met. PowerTower, the social app, is a competitive game in which individuals and teams are rewarded for saving energy.

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Publications and Presentations

Design for change in behavior: technology-based interactive software for energy reduction using a transdisciplinary process
Behavior, Energy & Climate Change Conference
Banerjee, B., Flora, J.A., Sahoo, A. (2012)

Engaging the human in the design of residential energy reduction applications
International Conference on Collaboration Technologies & Systems
Flora, J., Sahoo, A., Liptsey-Rahe, A., Scalamnini, A., Wong, B., Stehly, S., Banerjee, S. (2012)

Behavioral economics implications for online energy interface designs: Pilot studies (pdf)
Behavior Energy & Climate Change Conference
Sahoo, A., Flora, J., Banerjee, B. (2011)

Use of sensor-based feedback technology in reducing home energy consumption
International Conference on Collaboration Technologies & Systems
Matta, A., Heitz, A., Banerjee, B. (2011)

Future Work

Given the weak results of association of individual orientation to application type, researchers are examining the role of choice in application selection using a randomized controlled experiment. Their randomized experimental design has two levels. Participants are randomly assigned to an assigned or a choice condition.  In the assigned condition, participants are randomly assigned to one of the three applications. In the choice condition, participants choose which app they want to use (based on a short description of the application) to view their energy information.

The work has implications for the practical scalability of energy applications.  When confronted with three applications, utilities, energy service providers or non-profits or other potential adopting organizations typically would choose one application.  Yet, the applications in this project were conceptualized as a motivational frame map, where users can be matched or choose how they want to engage with and change their behavior.  Thus, a test of these applied options will provide valuable information for adopting organizations and researchers aiming to use the applications as motivational frame prototypes.  This test will have significant implications for best practices in the creation and deployment of energy reduction applications.