This is exactly what I was talking about in this week’s column. Admittedly it does involve foreign concepts like nonprofit utility boards and conscientious people, but this
The utility thinks behavior modification could be as effective in promoting conservation as trying to get customers to install new appliances is, Mr. Starnes said, and maybe more so.
is universal. Set aside ethical sympathies about the environment. Shame people into keeping up with their neighbors and they’ll take care of the imaginative/innovative part; you just put the comparative graphs on their bill. Okay, and the frowny faces, too.
In a 2004 experiment, he and a colleague left different messages on doorknobs in a middle-class neighborhood north of San Diego. One type urged the residents to conserve energy to save the earth for future generations; another emphasized financial savings. But the only kind of message to have any significant effect, Dr. Cialdini said, was one that said neighbors had already taken steps to curb their energy use.
“It is fundamental and primitive,” said Dr. Cialdini, who owns a stake in Positive Energy. “The mere perception of the normal behavior of those around us is very powerful.”