Motivating Pro-Environmental Behavior: The Use of Feedback and Peer Education to Promote Energy Conservation in an Organizational Setting
Carrico, Amanda R
Currently, the production of electricity in the United States is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions nationwide. As such, a growing number of scientists and policy-makers have argued that efforts to reduce the effects of climate change will require, among other things, a reduction in consumer demand for electricity. This dissertation explores the effectiveness of two interventions, feedback and peer education, in reducing energy use within a workplace setting. A 2 X 2 (feedback X peer education) cluster randomized field experiment was used in which a set of 24 buildings were randomly assigned to receive an information-only control intervention, feedback, peer education, or a combination of the two. These interventions were evaluated using a combination of kilowatt hours data, behavioral observation, and self-report. Results from the kilowatt hours data suggested that, within the control group, energy consumption remained stable from baseline to the intervention phase; however, significant declines were observed in the feedback, peer education and combined groups. On average, buildings that received feedback showed a 5% drop in energy use from baseline to during the intervention. Although the effects of peer education were more gradual, a 3% decline was observed during the latter months of the intervention. Although the largest effects were observed among buildings that received both feedback and peer education (9%), this difference was not statistically significant. Contrary to what was predicted, no evidence was found for the role of outcome expectancy, goals, social norms, or organizational identity as mediating and moderating variables. Likewise, the results described above were not replicated within the behavioral observation or self-report data. The significance of these findings are discussed in light of recent efforts to reduce energy consumption through behavioral modification. Likewise, the utility of these interventions is considered with respect to the feasibility of their being implemented in future organizational settings.