Center for Data Science
Research talk

Supporting behavioral change using psychologically-aware recommender systems: studies on household energy conservation – and more

In this talk, Alain Starke presents his research on energy recommender systems.

Alain Starke
Dr. Alain Starke from TU Eindhoven is a Niels Stensen PostDoc Fellow collaborating with InfoMedia on the exciting topic of psychology-aware recommender systems.

Main content

Abstract: Recommender systems are ubiquitous in our current information‐driven society. Without some of us even noticing, they are a big help in finding relevant content in various domains, such as movies (e.g. on Netflix) and newspaper articles (e.g. in Blendle). However, in the race to develop ever better algorithms, the user is often overlooked. In particular, recommender research has yet to take heed of important insights from theories on behavior and psychology (e.g. persuasion, nudging), which are particularly important in domains that are hard to model, such energy saving and healthy eating.

In this talk, Alain Starke presents his research on energy recommender systems that he conducted during his PhD at Eindhoven University of Technology, in the Netherlands (Jan ’15 – Feb ’19). His thesis titled ‘Supporting energy-efficient choices using Rasch-based recommender interfaces’ reports online experiments conducted at his website ‘Saving Aid’ (Besparingshulp.nl), on which he helped Dutch consumers to find appropriate energy-saving measures to take in and around the house (e.g. ‘turn off lights after leaving a room’ or ‘Install Solar PV’). In particular, he used the psychometric Rasch model to show that energy-saving behavior can be mapped on a one-dimensional scale, which is used to provide energy-saving advice that is tailored towards a person’s energy-saving attitude.

Bio: Alain Starke (1990) graduated cum laude at the Eindhoven University of Technology from the master's program Innovation Sciences in 2014. While writing his master's thesis, he landed a 'Research Talent' grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) to pursue a PhD at the Human Technology Interaction group, supervised by dr.ir M.C. Willemsen & Prof.dr. C.C.P. Snijders. Last February, he was awarded a ‘Niels Stensen Fellowship’ to fund one year of postdoctoral research. Starting this month, Alain joins the department of Information Science and Media Studies at UiB until August 2020 to work with Christoph Trattner on psychologically-aware recommender systems in the food and news domains.