Using Normative Social Influence to Promote Conservation Among Hotel Guests

Schultz, P. W., Khazian, A., Zaleski, A. (2008). Using normative social influence to promote conservation among hotel guests. Social Influence, 3(1), 4-23.

Three field experiments are reported on the ability of printed normative messages to influence conservation behavior among hotel guests. While prior research has shown that social norms can both guide and spur behavior, there are a number of questions about the generality of the effects, the impact of aligning descriptive and injunctive norms, and the relative impact of normative information about a specific versus general referent group. In the first experiment we demonstrate the basic influence of printed normative messages designed to promote towel reuse among a sample of hotel guests, and also that aligning the injunctive and descriptive elements of a normative message increases its impact on behavior. Experiment 2 extends this finding to guests staying in timeshare condominium units. In Experiment 3 we again replicate the effect, and also show that normative information about both generic and specific reference groups can affect behavior. Results are interpreted within the focus theory of normative conduct, and directions for future research are discussed.

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