Panel: Understanding the Role of Individual Decision-Making in the Policy Process
(Natural Resource, Energy, and Environmental Policy)

Saturday, November 10, 2018: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Taft - Mezz Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Chairs:  Varun Rai, University of Texas, Austin
Discussants:  Shahzeen Attari, Stanford University; Indiana University and Yueming (Lucy) Qiu, University of Maryland, College Park

Determinants of Residential Energy Conservation Among Homeowners in Florida: Extending the Theory of Planned Behavior
Prami Sengupta1,2, Randall Cantrell1 and Tracy Johns1, (1)University of Florida, (2)University of California, Irvine

Cataracts in the Theoretical Lens: Better Explanations and Stable Policy Recommendations
D. Cale Reeves and Varun Rai, University of Texas, Austin

Low-Income Household Experiences with Demand-Side Response: Examining the Balance of Comfort and Savings
Lee V. White, University of Southern California and Nicole D. Sintov, The Ohio State University

This panel proposal showcases showcasing a broad range of methodological approaches that explore the role of individual decision-making as a key determinant in the policy process. Together, they address the conference theme—Evidence for Action: Encouraging Innovation and Improvement—by finding innovative policy levers embedded in individual decision-making processes.


Whether local agencies are determining how to best deliver their services or assessing the impacts of their efforts, the policy process is fundamentally linked with individual decision-making. From problem identification through policy making and into implementation and evaluation, individual decision-making plays a role in shaping the discourse, outputs, and outcomes of environmental policy. However, individual decision-making processes are often complex and the results can be counterintuitive. Understanding the way people make decisions – particularly in response to a context shaped by policy – uncovers innovative opportunities to align programs with problems and to design, implement, and evaluate interventions. This panel includes novel research that explores the role of individual decision-making at each of these stages in the policy process.


Four papers compose the panel, each addressing a different aspect of the policy process. First, Dr. Nina Hoe, the Director of Evaluation with ImpactED, addresses problem formulation through an investigation into individuals’ decisions to purchase and drink bottled water when safe and clean tap water is available. Prami Sengupta, from the University of Florida, uses the Theory of Planned Behavior to analyze the connection between conservation attitudes and residential energy consumption. D. Cale Reeves, a PhD candidate at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin, addresses policy implementation with a recently developed framework for evaluating the choice between candidate theoretical lenses. Finally, Lee V. White, of the University of Southern California Sol Price School of Public Policy, addresses policy evaluation with an analysis of the individual decision to endure discomfort associated with usage curtailment under time-of-use electricity pricing.


Together, these four papers highlight the importance of considering the role of individual decision-making throughout the policy process. Though this panel centers on environmental policies, the policy process is common across many substantive fields. The elements of these analyses – as well as the aspects of individual decision-making processes they examine – that are transferable across fields is a potential topic for discussion.