Behavioural interventions that leverage social norms are widely used to foster energy conservation. For instance, home energy reports combine information on others’ behaviour (descriptive feedback) and approval for norm compliant behaviour (injunctive feedback). In a randomized controlled trial, we investigated how descriptive and injunctive feedbacks interact to affect electricity use, and evaluate the effects of additional normative feedback presented in the form of descriptive or injunctive energy conservation norm primes. We found that consistent descriptive and injunctive feedback boosts the effectiveness of social information in inducing energy conservation. When descriptive and injunctive feedback are in conflict, conservation behaviour is a function of the relative strength of the two types of feedback. Additional normative feedback produces smaller gains when it reinforces existing information of the same type. These results suggest complementarities between different types of normative messages rather than superiority of any one kind of feedback.
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The data that support the findings of this study are proprietary data of the energy company and cannot be shared publicly. To inquire about access to the proprietary data, please contact M.T.
The replication code is available on Open Science Framework at https://osf.io/wz8gb/.
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The research leading to these results received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Program (FP7/2007-2013)/ERC grant agreement no. 336155—project COBHAM, ‘The role of consumer behaviour and heterogeneity in the integrated assessment of energy and climate policies’.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Bonan, J., Cattaneo, C., d’Adda, G. et al. The interaction of descriptive and injunctive social norms in promoting energy conservation. Nat Energy 5, 900–909 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41560-020-00719-z
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