At Opower, Alex Laskey and colleagues are running what they describe as “the largest behavioral science experiment in the world.” Alex Laskey: How behavioral science can lower your energy billLaskey explains some of the thinking behind it in his TED Talk, “How behavioral science can lower your energy bill,” and he shared further insights into the importance of the field in this discussion with Harvard economist, Sendhil Mullainathan. But what if you’re interested in digging into behavioral economics and science more deeply?
We asked Alex to list his favorite books and resources on the topic. Here, in no particular order:
- Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini. Leading behavioral scientist Robert Cialdini gives an eye-opening tour of the psychological mechanisms at the heart of persuasion, including the powerful notion of social pressure I describe in the talk.
- Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely. Behavioral economist, best-selling author and popular TED speaker Dan Ariely examines the hidden forces that shape people’s decisions and actions, such as how social norms can often be more powerful than market incentives.
- Nudge by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein. Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein draw upon decades of behavioral research to reveal how better information can nudge people toward better choices, ranging from energy usage to health to finances.
- Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman, who gave the TED Talk “The riddle of experience vs. memory,” explores how behavioral economics and cognitive biases influence our everyday decision making.
- “Social Norms & Energy Conservation” by Hunt Allcott. Renowned economist Hunt Alcott’s evaluation of Opower’s behavioral energy efficiency programs at 17 different utilities across the United States.
- “Understanding and Motivating Energy Conservation via Social Norms” by Robert Cialdini and Wesley Shultz. The original “doorhanger” experiment I describe in the talk, explaining how households in San Marcos California responded to a range of behavioral messaging about energy conservation.
- “Behavioral Design” by Saugato Datta and Sendhil Mullainathan. This is an accessible explanation of how to apply behavioral science concepts in designing programs and policies.