The concept of mental accounting describes the mental processes employed by an individual in order to organize the resources used by them.
Human beings are likely to create a separate budget in their minds where specific acts of payments and consumption are linked. Although, this mechanism can be counterproductive considering energy consumption, and reduce the carbon emissions. In the study which was published in the journal Nature Energy, psychologist from the University of Geneva have researched mental accounting and linked it with energy and sustainability behavior of individuals. Moreover, the team proposed some concrete strategies that could be used to improve climate control measures.
Professor Tobias Brosch from the University of Geneva stated that these basic mechanisms can help researchers to better understand the unsustainable behavior of individuals. If these mechanisms are taken into consideration, they could be used to design policies for promotion of sustainable behavior and to fight climate change. Moreover, failure to adapt to budgets results in a negative energy balance.
Psychologists have proposed some concrete measures to achieve pro-climate initiatives. Ulf Hahnel, a senior researcher of the study said that humans need to clearly show what the price of energy is, and make the message loud and noticeable and demonstrate how carbon emission is affecting our environment. The approaches that were developed in this study could help in conceptualizing and diversifying the mental accounts so that individual can adapt their behaviors more effectively. However, Hahnel added that we need to be careful while designing policies due to several marketing-based initiatives that are taking place for revenue benefits and not for the environment. Professor Brosch concluded the paper by saying that their study can help in understanding individual behavior and how we make choices and take decisions. They do not aim to abolish free will but to provide a behavioral toolbox. All they want to say is that policy makers must use scientific evidence to develop a strategy but also involve ethical considerations.