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Ethics and Technology
TU DelftTU EindhovenUniversity of TwenteWageningen University
Ethics and Technology


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Wise Choices and Smart Savings

Effectiveness and Acceptability of Persuasive Technology for Household Energy Saving (MORALPT)
December 2012 - December 2014

Auke Pols Andreas Spahn

One third of all energy consumption takes place within the build environment, and reducing that consumption is crucial for a sustainable society. However, technological innovations alone are not enough: people also have to change their energy consumption behavior. Persuasive Technology (PT) can motivate people to realize sustainable energy consumption by using less household energy. PT aims at persuading human agents to behave in socially valued ways, by giving information, providing feedback, and taking over actions. The success of PT that serves the public interest depends on the integration of sound technology, effective persuasive principles and careful attention to ethical considerations.

The current research brings together psychological and ethical expertise to investigate under which conditions PT can be used to reduce household energy consumption in a way that is both, psychologically effective and ethically acceptable. In order to address this question the research will provide guidelines for designing PT to influence household energy consumption behavior in a way that this PT are (1) morally acceptable (focusing on user-autonomy, and the discrepancies between PT goals and user goals), and (2) psychologically effective (focusing on effectiveness of persuasive strategies PT can employ). These two sets of guidelines’ on the moral acceptability and the psychological effectiveness’ will be combined in a joint case study in the ‘Smart Home’ in order to investigate whether the adherence to moral principles in the design of PT will have a positive or negative impact on their (psychological) effectiveness.