Saturday, April 12, 2014

Better Social Engineering for Water Conservation

The "softer" skill sets of water conversation need much greater attention.  Designing a water bill that compares your comsumption to your nieghbors and city is one tool in the behavior modification basket that needs greater attention and research.  From Using Nonpercuniary Strategies to Influence Behavior: Evidence From a Large-Scale Field Experiment by Ferraro and Price (link):

Policymakers are increasingly using norm-based messages to

influence individual decision making. We partner with a metropolitan

water utility to implement a natural field experiment to examine the effect

of such messages on residential water demand. The data, drawn from

more than 100,000 households, indicate that social comparison messages

had a greater influence on behavior than simple prosocial messages or

technical information alone. Moreover, our data suggest that social comparison

messages are most effective among households identified as the

least price sensitive: high users. Yet the effectiveness of such messages

wanes over time. Our results thus highlight important complementarities

between pecuniary and nonpecuniary strategies.


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