Conflicts in Everyday Life: The Influence of Competing Goals on Domestic Energy Conservation
Journal article, 2015
A common approach for understanding people’s domestic energy behavior is to study the influence of deterministic factors, such as attitudes, norms and knowledge, on behavior. However, few studies have succeeded in fully explaining people’s behavior based on these factors alone. To further the understanding of people’s everyday energy use, a goal-oriented approach based on activity theory has been applied to discuss energy conservation from a multiple goal perspective based on the findings from an interview study with 42 informants. The findings show that the informants used energy to fulfill goals linked to basic needs or desires related to their well-being. Even though the majority of informants had an explicit goal to reduce their energy consumption, many experienced conflicts with other competing goals, which often made energy conservation undesirable or challenging. The findings suggest that actions to reduce energy use will most often not be prioritized if they cannot be integrated into people’s daily life without jeopardizing their possibilities to achieve their primary goals and satisfy their everyday needs. It is thus vital to consider people’s everyday life and the many conflicts they experience when aiming to understand why people do, or do not, prioritize energy conservation during everyday activities.