Proposal Defense 5/28/13: Jason Zietz — Utilizing a Socio-technical System to Foster and Support Mindfulness to Engender Persistent Pro-Environmental Behaviors

Human beings often make decisions without fully realizing the factors that influence their choices.  A woman buys the same type of car that most of her neighbors drive despite it being too small for her needs.  A man at a salad bar loads up on the croutons that are in the first row of items without considering to select healthier items in other rows.  While decisions such as these aren’t always deleterious, they may not be what a person most desires or what is best for them.  Deciding mindfully, however, may provide a person with the opportunity to be fully aware of their choices and select the best outcome based on their needs.  Socio-technical systems are well-suited as tools that foster and support mindful decision making.  This proposal describes my research plan for my PhD dissertation which entails the continued development of EMPIRE (Empowering People in Reducing Electricity Consumption), a socio-technical system designed to assist consumers in reducing their electricity usage.  My research will extend the functionality of EMPIRE to include features that assist users in thinking and acting more mindfully in regards to their electricity use.