On June 4, 2020, Nitin Bhushan defended his thesis Correlation, causation, and dynamics at the University of Groningen.
Correlation, causation, and dynamics
The global consensus on climate change today agrees that climate warming trends are very likely due to human activities. Households account for 26% of the total primary energy consumption in Europe (eurostat) and there is a rising interest in behaviour based interventions aimed at targeting household energy efficiency.
Traditionally, the outcome of these interventions have been given more importance than the underlying process that is assumed to lead to the outcome. We argue that to gain better insight into the process of behaviour change and to help inform future behavioural interventions, it is imperative to examine the patters and transitions reflected in household energy savings over time. Or more specifically, we intend to model the dynamics (process) of household energy consumption after intervention.
Additionally, due to the lack of theory explaining the psychological mechanisms underlying household energy consumption (and savings), it is necessary to resort to empirical models to understand the phenomena. This thesis will follow an exploratory research methodology. We refrain from testing concrete predictions and aim at better understanding a phenomena which ideally, will lead to a theory (whose predictions can later be tested on new data). We begin by choosing a class of models (based on domain expertise) which we feel is useful to understand the phenomena of interest. State Space Models (SSM) is chosen as our general class of models and we aim to identify if a certain subclass provides a better (adequate, but parsimonious) description of the process.
Prof. E.M. Steg, Dr C.J. Albers & Prof. R.R. Meijer
NWO and University of Groningen