'By popular demand' methodology

'By popular demand' methodology
Below is the methodology used by researchers from the Centre for Industrial Energy, Materials and Products (CIEMAP) as the basis of our report: By popular demand: what people want from a resource efficient economy, November 2018

Download this methodology as a pdf.

The majority of information in the report was based on research conducted by CIEMAP researchers at Cardiff University, including through in depth qualitative workshops and a representative quantitative survey of 1,093 people. Additional analysis on the carbon impact of resource efficiency strategies was conducted by CIEMAP researchers at Leeds University, and originally published in ‘Public acceptance of resource efficiency strategies to mitigate climate change’ in Nature Climate Change.

Workshop design and protocol
To explore the public acceptability of a range of different resource efficiency strategies, CIEMAP researchers designed a series of two day deliberative workshops. Making use of established methods for the deliberation of science and technology issues, the workshops provided an open space for participants to explore possibly unfamiliar ideas around resource efficiency strategies and engage in critical discussion with other participants. A range of activities were developed around a set of ‘scenarios for a low material future’, aiming to elicit reflections on both the personal and social implications of resource efficiency strategies. Developed from a series of 22 expert interviews with policy makers, business and industry representatives and NGOs, these scenarios identified areas of everyday life that may change, including: products, business, ownership, community, waste and lifestyles. A set of resources (vignette storylines and information posters) were developed for each scenario. The first day of each workshop focused on the vignettes, which took the form of a story describing ‘a day in your life’ under each scenario. In small groups, participants then explored each scenario separately and were encouraged to imagine themselves in that future and think about how everyday life may change and how they would feel about that. After reconvening for a second day, participants took part in the poster activity, which was designed to remind them of the different products and services that might be available in each future scenario and provide an opportunity for wider group discussion of their pros and cons. Participants were given time to read the posters and highlight broadly how positive they felt about each option using green, yellow and red coloured stickers. The group then came together to discuss each poster in turn and explore which strategies they believed would be most publically acceptable.

Workshop sample and recruitment
Four workshops were conducted across two cities (Cardiff and Bristol) between November 2016 and January 2017. The two cities were chosen for their different socioeconomic profiles and, in each city, separate workshops were held with higher income and lower income groups. Overall, 51 participants took part (11-14 per workshop). Face to face, topic blind recruitment (where people did not know the subject matter in advance) was undertaken by a professional agency that recruited participants for a workshop entitled ‘Exploring the future of consumption’ in exchange for a cash honorarium. Table 1 shows the demographic distribution of participants. Participants were then divided into the high income and low income workshops on the basis of socioeconomic class: ABC1 (a spectrum of middle class professionals) and C2DE (a range of skilled workers and those currently unemployed or retired) respectively. Although not considered statistically representative, our diverse sample of participants was able to provide a rich and meaningful dataset through which to explore the public acceptability of resource efficiency strategies.

For further information about the workshops, contact: Dr Catherine Cherry, Cardiff University –cherryce@cardiff.ac.uk

Table 1. Summary table of demographics for deliberative workshops participants.

Survey procedure
The survey was designed and administered through Qualtrics, using online panels for the recruitment process. Quotas were set for age, gender, education, region and income to ensure the sample was representative of the British public (see table 2 for demographic information). After pilot testing the survey questions, the main sample was recruited between March and July 2018. The survey took approximately 25 minutes to complete and 1,093 respondents were included in the final national sample (excluding respondents who failed the minimum time limit, respondents who were screened out based on their open responses and over samples from Wales and Scotland).

Survey questions
The survey was designed to explore public perceptions of low material scenarios of the future and related strategies, while also examining criteria for acceptance (or dismissal) of certain strategies. After indicating their general attitudes about resource efficiency (relevance in relation to other issues, need for a shift) respondents were presented with four short animated clips that lasted 45-62 seconds. (The videos were designed by Howdy and are available through links provided below.) The clips described different versions of low material future societies, and were entitled: ‘rethinking business’, ‘rethinking community’, ‘rethinking ownership’ and ‘rethinking lifestyles’. After each clip, respondents indicated their concerns, positive thoughts and general support for each future vision before being asked about specific values that might determine support (as identified by the deliberative workshops). The tested values for each clip were affordability, convenience, economic strength, quality of life, autonomy, social isolation, environmental impact and trust. Subsequently, respondents were asked to indicate their support (or opposition) for specific low material/resources strategies: biodegradable packaging, option of refurbished products, business responsibility for repair, household recycling schemes, material tax, communal office space, annual personal material allowance, shared living spaces, regulations for product recyclability and additional contract services. Furthermore, respondents answered questions assessing other potential concerns (eg cleanliness of products), their trust in relevant actors, personal values, moral concerns and social norms around resource efficiency.

For further information about the survey, contact: Dr Katharine Steentjes, Cardiff University – steentjesk@cardiff.ac.uk

Table 2. Demographic characteristics of survey sample

Contact details
Please contact the research team for any questions regarding this research project:

Professor Nick Pidgeon
Understanding Risk research group
School of Psychology
Cardiff University
Tower Building, Park Place
Cardiff, CF10 3AT
Tel: 0292087 4567
Email: PidgeonN@cardiff.ac.uk
Dr Catherine Cherry
Understanding Risk research group
Tel: 029 225 10128
Email: cherryce@cardiff.ac.uk
Dr Katharine Steentjes
Understanding Risk research group
Tel: 029 2087 6520
Email: steentjesk@cardiff.ac.uk
Animated clips (used in survey)
Clips were designed by Howdy https://www.howdy-pardners.com/

Rethinking Business
Describing lifelong product guarantees, incentivised returns, module design of products

Rethinking Community
Describing sharing of skills and products, library of things, community hubs
Rethinking Ownership
Describing contracts for services to replace owning products, service based consumption

Rethinking Lifestyles
Describing annual personal material allowance, a material tax (to replace VAT), higher use of public transport, less travel overall and the reduction or sharing of private living space.