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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Positive reinforcement is just the beginning: Associative learning principles for energy efficiency and climate sustainability


A major cause of global climate change, human behavior has long been recognized as an essential part of the solution as well. Behavior change methods in turn rely in part on associative learning principles. Some learning principles, such as positive reinforcement and delay discounting, are already integrated into energy research and interventions. However, others remain underutilized. In this paper, we review selected learning principles, suggesting how they can enhance both our understanding of the behavioral challenges and our effectiveness in addressing them. We seek to interest and involve researchers and practitioners in a variety of energy and sustainability specializations.

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