Section 4

Social Norms

Nolan et al. (2008) in their study on a sample of California residents, demonstrated that messages structured in terms of social norm (e.g. “Join your neighbors in conserving energy”) were more effective in reducing energy consumption than those structured in terms of self- interest (e.g. “save money by conserving energy”), environmental protection (e.g. “protect the environment by conserving energy”) and social responsibility (e.g. “do your part to conserve energy for future generations”) (p. 932).

Similarly, Darley (1977) observed that the “diffusion [of energy technological choices] proceeds along sociometric rather than spatial networks” (p. 342). In his study on the adoption of an innovative energy-saving thermostat within households, Darley discovered that the people are most willing to make the change when they have witness an acquaintance’s success in adopting it. Henceforth, the uptake rate for energy efficient technology is usually higher amongst the participants’ social circle and lesser so for their neighbours.

These studies highlighted the potential of including prominent community figures in the process of promoting energy conservation efforts.