Energy Conservation: Two Easy Ways Out

Van-der-Pligt, J. (1985). Energy conservation: Two easy ways out. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 15, 1, 3-15.

Investigated attitude-behavior relationships in the context of energy conservation, using data from questionnaires administered to 219 Dutch Ss (average age 43.9 yrs) from rural and urban areas. Results indicate that general environmental concern was a poor predictor of energy-conservation behaviors. Direct evaluative comparisons of various nonconservationist behaviors with a more conservationist alternative showed a clear relationship with behavioral preference. Nonconservationists, however, evaluated their own behavior only marginally favorably and in some cases clearly unfavorably. This was accompanied by an overestimation of the common occurrence of these behaviors among the general population and by an unwillingness to relate these behaviors to personality characteristics. It is argued that these biases (i.e., considering one's behavior as a habit shared by many others) could hinder behavioral change. Findings are discussed in terms of formulating effective public policy on the issue of energy consumption. (24 ref)

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