New Behavior Program manager, looking for data

Blog | March 18, 2016 - 11:23 am
By Reuven Sussman, Manager, Behavior Program

You know the facial expression of a person who got confused on the way to being excited? That is the typical the response I get when I tell people my areas of research. I am an environmental psychologist. Before you ask… No, I do not perform psychotherapy on bunnies and I’m afraid I can’t tell you how trees feel before being cut down (although I imagine it’s the type of thing that would get your sap pumping). In fact, I have spent the better part of a decade (in British Columbia, Canada) researching the psychology of human behavior, as it relates to environmental problems. How do people perceive climate change? What motivates human behavior to reduce pollution? How can we encourage energy efficiency through behavior change? These are the questions that drive my work.

My environmental psychology publications span a broad spectrum of topics from changing behavior by social modeling (in the community and on campus), to the effectiveness of simple visual prompts, to the role of personal values in commons dilemmas. I’ve also examined the psychology of climate change, pro-environmental attitudes, and the design of sustainable cities that meet residents’ psychological needs. The common thread tying all of my research interests together has always been the application of psychology to real-world problems. At ACEEE I will examine human behavior from a variety of psychological and non-psychological perspectives in order to assess opportunities for improved energy efficiency.

I am writing today not only to introduce myself, but also to ask for your assistance. My first project at ACEEE is a review of the status and impact of behavior change programs designed to reduce energy consumption. This will be an update of the ACEEE Field Guide to Utility-Run Behavior Programs and will focus specifically on programs run by utilities, researchers, governments, and others that have been evaluated for their effectiveness in reducing energy consumption. If you know of any such programs or have information about a program that you have run, please email me at I’m eager to hear about the programs (big or small) that I may not otherwise know about.

My other responsibility at ACEEE is co-chairing the Behavior, Energy & Climate Change Conference (BECC). This is a well-attended and important event in the world of behavior change and global warming. It is unique in that it brings together researchers and decision makers in order to help inform critical climate change policies. If this is a topic that interests you, I suggest submitting an abstract soon. The deadline for abstract submissions is April 8, 2016 for the conference, which happens on October 20-22, 2016.

Although the psychology of behavior change is my area of expertise, I look forward to continued learning and growth as research manager of behavior and human dimensions of energy efficiency at ACEEE. Please feel free to contact me to introduce yourself, or ask questions about intersection of behavior, psychology, and energy efficiency.