CIRPA attended the national congress of the Italian Association of Psychology with a contribution named “The acceptance of sustainable technology: mapping of the technological, contextual and social-psychological determinants of biofuels acceptance from EU stakeholders within the sustainability field” (scheduled within the Symposium on “Social psychology contribution in public engagement processes and the importance of public engagement for social psychology”, held on Tuesday 14th September 2021 in Brescia, Italy).
The co-authors (Dessi, F., Ariccio, S., Albers, T., Alves, S., Ludovico, N., Bonaiuto, M.) were all from the CIRPA team who worked on the qualitative study within Task 2.5, in WP2.
Speaking about socio-economic and environmental evaluation, social acceptance emerges as a critical step for biofuel development, production and distribution. Nevertheless, these issues have been widely underestimated in Social Psychology as well as in many other sciences.
Concepts such as acceptability, acceptance, and adoption are often interchanged within the scientific literature on sustainable technology perception, evaluation, and use. The first problem to be addressed regards their relative definitions. A partial consensus can be found on defining acceptability as a property of the target sustainable technology (i.e., its potential acceptance for the stakeholders); while acceptance can be considered as its assessment from the stakeholders; with adoption being its actual use by the stakeholders. Moreover, literature focuses on what can determines such outcomes. Time by time, studies focused on different relevant features (regarding either the considered technology, or its context, or the target person) which may co-determine the above mentioned outcomes, by favouring them (facilitator factors) or hindering them (barriers).
Within Task 2.5, CIRPA developed a qualitative study aimed at mapping such facilitators and barriers with respect to biofuels acceptability and to acceptance, as well as to uses intentions. The aim has been to describe all the potentially relevant factors, from the point of view of relevant EU stakeholders. The coordinates by means of which selecting such relevant stakeholders have been set by the previous study carried out within Task 2.5 (see Ludovico, Dessi, Bonaiuto, 2020). The present contribution therefore selects 32 stakeholders from such a panel, according to the two relevant dimensions of their Interest and Influence within the network of the EU biofuels stakeholders; by mapping the eight EU countries involved in the ABC-Salt project too, as well as the five main types of organisation they belong to (namely, SME, large company, research and academic centre, governmental institutions, NGO).
Notwithstanding the pandemic context, the study has been managed and carried out thanks to IT tools which allowed remote interactions among the research team and the study participants to be interviewed. The adopted methodology has been, as planned, a structured interview. The interview structure (30 main questions, plus some sub-questions) has been prepared on the basis of the literature, with particular reference to theoretical models (such as, the Sustainable Energy Technology Acceptance model, SETA) already adopted by previous studies. Each stakeholder filled in her/his answers to each question by writing through the Qualtrics online platform. A qualitative analysis has been carried out supported by MaxQDA (Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Software).
Results confirmed the presence of contents belonging to four main clusters of potential facilitators or barriers towards biofuels acceptance, namely: the perception of the technology per se, with all its intrinsic features; the perception of its contextual aspects in terms of either the economic and market-related features, or the political and administrative ones; and finally, all those social-psychological features of the person who may accept the biofuel. All features advocated by the stakeholders within such four main cluster are grouped into facilitating and inhibiting factors, on the basis of the stakeholders accounts connecting each specific feature to the outcome of biofuels acceptability, acceptance, and adoption. Such a correspondence is summarised in the following table
Table from the Task 2.5 qualitative study reporting favouring and inhibiting factors (i.e., facilitators and barriers) of biofuels acceptance from EU stakeholders (N=32).
Details are presently available within D 2.5; while a more updated draft is presently under revision as a contribution to be re-submitted to a scientific journal, after the first round of feedback from the journal’s reviewers. Moreover, these results have already been used to create a questionnaire for the quantitative study, whose aim is to statistically test the relevance of the various features listed above – whether regarding the technology to be adopted per se, its context, or the target person who should adopt it – in predicting positive attitudes towards biofuels, then intentions to support and use them, and finally willingness to pay for them.