Professor of Psychology for Sustainable Cities

Reint Jan Renes

About me

All my life I have been fascinated by people’s behaviour. Wondering about what makes us tick and why is it that we so often behave – ostensibly – illogically. I also admire how – sometimes against all odds – so many people try to shape a pleasant, sustainable society together. I enjoy nature, but I am mainly a city person. I enjoy life the most when the sun is shining and I’m sitting on a crowded terrace with a dark beer in hand with the people I love. I’m slightly addicted to Netflix and Twitter. I find it very difficult to say no to friendly requests so I’m always short of time. I get a lot of energy from my very committed research group and feel most proud when we – as a group – manage to receive concrete results with a positive impact on (climate) policy and people. I try to focus on the bright side of life and like to stay close to people who feel like sunshine.

Personal Motivation

As for NEON, there are two things that motivate me. First, the realization that reversing climate change is the biggest challenge in the next 30 years. Contributing to that gives me great satisfaction. Second, I am convinced that the greatest gains can be made if we succeed in actually mixing – from head-on – knowledge from social sciences with knowledge from technical sciences. It is a gritty challenge that I would like to take part in that NEON actually tries to mix these two worlds optimally.

The Human Factor

With knowledge from behavioural science NEON work package 7 installs the human factor into the (technology oriented) work packages 1 to 6.

Most companies and researchers in the renewable energy domain have a strong technical focus, but in order to determine to what extent technological solutions (developed within the NEON work packages 1 to 6) are desired or acceptable (e.g. how much people are willing to pay for them or are willing to use them), we need to determine individual preferences of the relevant groups. Think of NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) arguments regarding wind and solar, or the level of comfort in MaaS (Mobilty as a Service). Whether these social concepts are taken into account when developing technologies and modelling societal change could make or break the development.

So, in order to make NEON a success, it is essential that we take the human factor into account when developing new technologies.

Link to other neon research

I think this is one of the toughest questions for now. It goes without saying that we would like to collaborate with scientists in all six technical work packages and that we are very happy to provide input to Floor Alkemade’s agent-based model. However, how we are going to give concrete shape to this cross-disciplinary collaboration is something we still have to find out.

We will therefore mainly have to take time to take note of what is going on in the other work packages and to properly understand how we can make a meaningful, reciprocal contribution to this.