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Transformation to Low Carbon Living – social psychology of low carbon behavioural practice (RP3012)

Sustainable living Energy consumption Behavioural insights Low carbon living Psychology Regulator strategy
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DOI: 10.25916/5ce9d53576137 1.35 MB

This document is the final report for a CRC Low Carbon Living project called “Transformation to Low Carbon Living: Social psychology of low carbon behavioural practice". As outlined in the introduction, the purpose of this project was to identify low carbon behaviours and then both (a) develop a short measure that could be used to measure psychological readiness in people for engaging in low carbon behaviour and (b) provide a social psychological foundation for understanding when and why people will engage in low carbon behaviour. The short measure developed is called the Low Carbon Readiness Index (LCRI) and this report both demonstrates and discusses the many ways it can be used to understand and aid in the promotion of transformation to low carbon living. The authors also highlight the value of also considering the role of interpersonal factors.

In chapter 2, the authors present behavioural practices theory, which provides a social psychological foundation for understanding low carbon behaviour. Specifically, the authors guide the reader through a series of theoretical ideas and provide notes on how these ideas can be used by practitioners to design better policy and interventions that promote low carbon living. The “Why-How-Who” analysis of behaviour discussed in this chapter also gives a theoretical basis for understanding the LCRI measure and the way it is related to low carbon living.

In chapter 3, the authors describe the methods used to measure low carbon living in Australia and the structure of the annual survey collected from the Australian population between 2015- 2017. Low carbon motivation was measured using the LCRI and three interpersonal factors: low carbon household regulation, community support and a low carbon descriptive norm. Low carbon behaviour was measured in terms of multiple different low carbon daily routines and investment in several different pieces of low carbon infrastructure. In chapter 4, the authors report descriptive characteristics from the three survey waves collected. These showed that the level of low carbon motivation and behaviour in Australia was stable over the 2015-2017 period but that a substantial amount of low carbon behaviour was being performed, both in terms of infrastructure investment and performance of low carbon routines. In chapter 5, the authors show that the measured low carbon behaviour tended to occur in clusters and that the amount of behaviour participants performed within these clusters could be predicted by their level of LCRI.

In chapter 6, the authors then investigated the role of interpersonal factors in predicting both LCRI and low carbon behaviour. The authors found that people with higher household regulation of low carbon behaviour and higher community support for this behaviour were higher in LCRI and that increases in these factors also predicted an increase in LCRI across time. The authors also found that interpersonal factors affected low carbon behaviour both directly and in interaction with LCRI. In chapter 7, the authors examined six subpopulations who were either high, middling or low in their low carbon investment and also either high or low in their low carbon routines. The authors found these populations differed particularly in terms of household regulation, low carbon descriptive norm, age and house ownership. In chapter 8, the authors conclude the report by discussing the main levers for promoting low carbon behaviour (household regulation, community support and house ownership) as well as directions for future research.

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