Utilizing a Social-Ecological Framework to Promote Water and Energy Conservation: A Field Experiment

Kurz, T., Donaghue, N., & Walker, I. (2005). Utilizing a social-ecological framework to promote water and energy conservation: A field experiment. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 35(6), 1281-1300.

The present study utilized a social-ecological framework to design an intervention to reduce residential water and energy use in a local community. An experimental design was used to study the influence of information leaflets, attunement labels, and socially comparative feedback on the actual levels of energy and water consumption in 166 households over a 6-month period. The results suggest that the labels, designed to attune residents to the environmental-impact affordances of various appliances around their homes, led to a 23% reduction in water consumption. Neither information leaflets nor socially comparative feedback produced significant reductions in water use, compared to controls. No significant reductions in energy consumption were observed for any of the intervention conditions. The results are discussed in terms of their theoretical implications and their application to public policy promoting environmentally sustainable behavior.

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