Journal of Consumer Policy

, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 485–508 | Cite as

The Energy Paradox Revisited: Analyzing the Role of Individual Differences and Framing Effects in Information Perception

  • Samdruk DharshingEmail author
  • Stefanie Lena HilleEmail author
Original Paper


In the ongoing debate about the “energy paradox”, a recent stream of literature highlights the importance of behavioural anomalies such as bounded rationality and self-control problems. However, the role of individual-level factors in explaining the energy paradox is still not fully understood. Combining literature on behavioural anomalies and consumer heterogeneity, the current paper analyses how individual differences influence the perception of energy-related information and susceptibility to choice-framing effects. A choice-based conjoint experiment about energy-saving home improvements was conducted with 363 homeowners in Switzerland. Results show that numeracy and energy literacy have no influence on how much attention individuals pay to energy cost savings. However, impulsivity and risk aversion are found to significantly impact homeowners’ weighting of future energy cost savings. Further, it is found that impulsive homeowners are significantly more susceptible to energy cost-framing effects. A key implication for consumer policy is that general educational programs targeted at enhancing citizens’ knowledge and cognitive abilities are unlikely to increase energy conservation investments. The findings further suggest that consumer policies and business models aimed at reducing impulsiveness and influencing risk perception might foster the uptake of energy-saving measures in the residential housing sector.


Household behaviour Energy conservation Numeracy Energy literacy Time preferences Cost framing Consumer policy 



We thank two anonymous reviewers for their constructive feedback on an earlier version of this paper.

Funding Information

The authors thank the Swiss Federal Office of Energy for funding the survey described in this research article. The research is part of the activities of SCCER CREST (Swiss Competence Center for Energy Research), which is financially supported by the Swiss Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI) under Grant No. 466 KTI.2014.0114.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of St. Gallen, IWO-HSGSt. GallenSwitzerland

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