Seven Myths about Behavior, Energy, & Buildings

March 6, 2012 - 12:00pm
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I use the term “myths” not in the common usage as a “lie”, but rather the way anthropologists use the term—as a way a group explains a phenomenon—as a “folk model” that often serves as a basis for action. Myths typically have an element of truth, but they are incomplete and partial explanations. Understanding myths can help policy makers question assumptions, and can lead to more effective policies and programs—taking off blinders and helping us see how others see the world. Myths can also inform research—by giving us pointers to questions that need to be answered. Lastly, myths deal with issues that are important to people and society, they are often the mental models that are fundamental to our beliefs and guide our actions. They are often the narratives that are most important in our lives. And as a bonus, they are fun—not just in the sense of being amusing, but in the sense of being intellectually engaging. I’ve collected dozens of myths about behavior and energy, and will present some of my favorite, including “Behavior is an Important Determinant of Energy Use,” “Changing Behavior is Easy,” “People Want More Information about their Energy Use,” and “Behavior Research can Inform Policy.” A recording of this seminar is available at:

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