Liechtenstein Information Systems Seminar: Feedback, fast and slow - a field study on live feedback for resource conservation

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Dr. Verena Tiefenbeck


Wednesday, May 16th 2018, 10.30 - 12.00
University of Liechtenstein, S1


Dr. Verena Tiefenbeck
Dep. of Computer Science
ETH Zürich

Digitalization increasingly provides the necessary tools to collect, analyze, and communicate data on a large scale. In the energy sector, millions of smart meters have been deployed across the globe, making it possible to provide timely and specific feedback to firms and households on their energy consumption. Yet, most smart metering programs have resulted in very modest savings effects, creating a wave of disillusionment among policymakers stakeholders from industry. Recent studies suggest that "live" feedback on resource consumption that is provided during a specific activity can induce much larger savings effects; yet, the underlying behavioral mechanisms are still unclear. In a two-month randomized controlled field trial with 517 Swiss households, we evaluate the impact of live vs. minimally delayed feedback on the resource consumption of a specific energy-intensive activity (showering). While we find large and stable savings effects of 23% for live feedback, minimally delayed feedback induces significantly smaller savings and takes longer to unfold its impact. Both live and delayed feedback similarly reduce participants' prior perception errors about resource consumption, yet live feedback enables a higher degree of behavioral control, enabling individuals to reach conservation goals more precisely. Given the simplicity of the activity studied, these findings challenge prior research that had attributed the superiority of live feedback to individuals' limited ability to process complex system dynamics.

Verena Tiefenbeck is a senior research assistant at chair of Information Management at ETH Zurich, Switzerland. She leads the Bits to Energy Lab at ETH Zurich, an interdisciplinary team that combines digital technologies and behavioral research to foster resource conservation. She completed her PhD in 2014 under the supervision of Prof. Elgar Fleisch at ETH Zurich. Prior to that, she spent 3.5 years in Boston as visiting PhD student at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology and as research assistant at the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems. Verena Tiefenbeck holds diplomas (M.Sc. equiv.) in Mechanical Engineering and Management from both TU Munich and from Ecole Centrale Paris (TIME double degree program). Her research has been published in Management Science, Nature Energy, Applied Energy, and at leading IS conferences.

The participation is free of charge.


Prof. Dr. Stefan Seidel


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