The Impact of Personal Metering in the Management of a Natural Resource Crisis: A Social Dilemma Analysis

Van Vugt, M. & Samuelson, C. D. (1999). The impact of personal metering in the management of a natural resource crisis: A social dilemma analysis. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 25, 6, 731-745.

A field study (with 76 Ss [mean age 43 yrs]) and scenario study (with 64 Ss [mean age 45 yrs]) were conducted to investigate the impact of a structural solution in the management of a natural resource dilemma: The effects of individual metering in a water shortage. It was predicted that metering would be beneficial in promoting conservation, in particular, when people experienced a shortage. Consistent with expectations, the results of both studies revealed that conservation efforts were greater among metered (vs unmetered) Ss when they perceived the water shortage as severe. Additional analyses suggested that the positive effect of metering could be partially explained by a greater attitudinal concern with the collective costs of overconsumption during the drought. Our findings suggest that structural solutions, such as metering, may produce concomitant effects that extend beyond the outcome structure of the social dilemma.

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