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Using role play to explore energy perceptions in the United States and United Kingdom

Thomas, Merryn ORCID:, Partridge, Tristan, Pidgeon, Nicholas ORCID:, Herr Harthorn, Barbara, Demski, Christina ORCID: and Hasell, Ariel 2018. Using role play to explore energy perceptions in the United States and United Kingdom. Energy Research and Social Science 45 , pp. 363-373. 10.1016/j.erss.2018.06.026

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We present the methodology and results of a role-play game that explored energy preferences and decision making criteria for a hypothetical town. Six day-long, mixed-methods workshops focussing on public perceptions of shale gas and oil development were held with highly diverse groups in four urban locations (Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, US; London and Cardiff, UK) and two rural locations (Hirwaun and Winford, UK), N = 83. As part of the workshops, small groups of participants assumed the role of town council members and were asked to debate and rank six energy infrastructure proposals (wind, solar, nuclear, shale gas, shale oil, and coal) in order of preference; a task that stimulated energetic, in-depth discussions around preferences, decision-making criteria, conditions and trade-offs. We reflect on how role-play methodology can be used to elicit insights into the nature of complex decision-making, as well as affording participants clarity and efficacy about decisions, and providing a novel platform by which to engage with energy conundrums. We also elucidate the challenges posed by inevitable disparities between role play and reality, and those associated with materials, framings, and group dynamics. Finally, we make recommendations for extending and refining the methodology, including participant-led framing and cautious consensus building.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 2214-6296
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 2 July 2018
Date of Acceptance: 28 June 2018
Last Modified: 08 Nov 2023 04:27

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