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Winter Quarter 2024

energy policy & human behavior

The success of many environmental and energy-related policies depends on the support and cooperation of the public. This course, drawing from multiple fields of behavioral science, will examine the psychological and social aspects of different energy-related behaviors, ranging from household energy conservation to public support and opposition for emergent energy technologies (e.g., wind farms, fracking, etc.). Through a mix of lecture and discussion, we will explore questions such as: what are potential motivations and barriers – beyond financial considerations – to the uptake of energy efficient and renewable energy technologies? How can policies be designed to enhance adoption? Why is climate change such a divisive issue and what are the psychological barriers that prevent concerned people from acting? Why do people support clean energy broadly but object to developments when proposed in their own communities? By taking a behavioral approach, the course aims to equip students with an enhanced framework for evaluating energy and environmental policies that goes beyond traditional economic and regulatory perspectives.
(There are no pre-requisites.)


PPHA 39925

Tu/Th 9:30 - 10:50 am

Spring Quarter 2024

behavioral science & public policy

(formerly psychology for policy designers)

Many policies are aimed at influencing people’s behavior. The most well-intentioned policies can fail, however, if they are not designed to be compatible with the way people actually think and make decisions. This course will draw from the fields of cognitive, social, and environmental psychology to (1) examine the ways in which human behavior deviates from the standard rational actor model typically assumed by economics, and (2) provide strategies for improving the design, implementation, and evaluation of public-facing policies. The basic premise of this course is that a foundational understanding of human behavior can lead not only to more effective policies, but enhanced decision-making and well-being.


PPHA 31941

Tu/Th 9:30-10:50



Tu/Th 11:00-12:20

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