Using Commitment to Reduce Energy Consumption in Iowa City

Pallak, M.S., D.A. Cook and J.J. Sullivan (1980). Commitment and Energy Conservation. In L. Bickman (ed.), Applied Social Psychology Annual 235-253, Beverley Hills, Ca: Sage.
First, a literature review identified public commitment as an effective tool for behavior change. In order to further investigate the effectiveness of commitment, this tool was incorporated during twenty minute home visits in a pilot program. During these visits, energy conservation strategies were explained to residents. While one group of participants were told their names would be publicized with the results of the study, another group was asked only to make a private commitment to conserve energy. Both groups were told that the study would last one month. Finally, a control group did not receive the home visit nor was the group asked to make a commitment.

Evaluation after one month revealed that public commitment had reduced energy consumption by 10-20 %. Furthermore, this behavior change was evident throughout the year their meters were monitored. In contrast, there was no significant energy reduction in the private commitment or control group.

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