Events & Media

The Bren School of Environmental Science & Management
at the University of California, Santa Barbara



"How Change Sticks: How Treatment Effects Can Persist After Treatment Has Been Discontinued"

Todd Rogers
Assistant Professor of Public Policy
Kennedy School
Harvard University

Wednesday, March 5, 2014
2:30 - 3:30
Bren Hall 1424

"Professor Rogers provides rich insights on environmental problem-solving, developed through years of entrepreneurial experience and some of the best business and academic training." — Matt Potoski, Faculty Host

Psychologists tend to study behavioral treatment effects that are measured soon after manipulations are administered. However, behavioral scientists and policy-makers are paying increasing attention to the persistence of treatment effects—the repetition of a target behavior or outcome over time, after the intervention has been discontinued. We introduce a framework describing the psychological channels that enable treatment effects to persist over time after interventions have been discontinued. These persistence pathways can be classified in relation to the self: they are either "internal" to the self or "external" to the self. This talk will illustrate internal and external pathways with examples from a large 5-year field experiment conducted with the company OPOWER, which mails descriptive social norm-based home energy reports repeatedly to more than six million households nationwide. In this experiment, the home energy reports treatment is administered for several years, and then discontinued. We observe that the energy consumption reduction caused by the treatment persists for years after the treatment is discontinued, decaying 10% to 20% per year.

Todd Rogers is a behavioral scientist whose work bridges the gap between intention and action. Topics he has studied include the cognitive and social factors that influence election participation and how time-inconsistent preferences can be leveraged to increase support for future-minded policies and choices such as support for environmental legislation, ordering healthier foods, and watching high-brow movies. His recent work develops and tests behavioral science informed interventions in classrooms. Prior to joining the faculty at Harvard's Kennedy School, Professor Rogers was founding executive director of the Analyst Institute, LLC, which uses randomized field experiments and behavioral science insights to understand and improve voter communication program. He is a senior researcher with the think tank ideas42. He was named a Rising Star by Politics magazine for his work in the 2008 election cycle, and a "40 under 40" award winner by New Leaders Council for leadership in politics. He received his PhD jointly from Harvard's Department of Psychology and Harvard Business School, and received his BA in religion and psychology from Williams College.

NOTE: Community colloquia are generally talks of broad interest geared toward a diverse, sophisticated audience. Their purpose is not only to enhance knowledge and understanding, but also to bring people together and promote interaction that will strengthen the community.


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