Toward More Effective Antecedent Strategies for Environmental Programs

Ester, P. & Winett, R. A. (1982). Toward more effective antecedent strategies for environmental programs. Journal of Environmental Systems, 11, 3, 201-221.

Antecedent strategies such as information and prompts when used to promote proenvironmental practices, i.e., energy and water conservation, recycling and litter control, use of mass transit or energy saving driving behaviors, are generally believed to be ineffective, particularly in comparison to consequence strategies such as feedback and use of various rewards. A review of forty-one representative studies in behavioral, environmental research indicated that when attention is given to such factors as specificity, proximity, convenience of the behavior, and salience that antecedent strategies can be effective, albeit still considerably less effective than consequence strategies. However, far more striking in the review was the poor design of antecedent strategies, the use primarily of the written medium alone, and the generally singular presentation of the intervention. The development of more effective antecedent strategies is important from a policy perspective since they are generally less expensive to implement than consequence strategies, or may be combined with consequence strategies to optimize outcome. Incorporating concepts and practices from communications and social diffusion theories, as well as more fully exploiting behavioral modeling were discussed as bases for developing more effective antecedent strategies. Examples of media-based and local, personal contact approaches are given to illustrate the potential of more effective antecedent strategies.

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