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Contest-based and norm-based interventions: (How) do they differ in attitudes, norms, and behaviors?

Journal article
Authors Magnus Bergquist
Andreas Nilsson
Emma Ejelöv
Published in Sustainability
Volume 11
Issue 2
ISSN 2071-1050
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Psychology
Language en
Links https://doi.org/10.3390/su11020425
Keywords Attitudes, Behavioral intervention, Contest, Goals, Household energy demand, Norms
Subject categories Environmental psychology, Applied Psychology, Psychology

Abstract

Setting up a contest is a popular means to promote pro-environmental behaviors. Yet, research on contest-based interventions is scarce while norm-based interventions have gained much attention. In two field experiments, we randomly assigned 79 apartments to either a contest-based or a norm-based electricity conservation intervention and measured kWh usage for 2 and 4 weeks, respectively. Results from both studies showed that contest-based interventions promote intensive but short-lived electricity saving. In Study 1 apartments assigned to a norm-based intervention showed more stable electricity saving (low intensity and long-lasting). Study 2 did not replicate this finding, but supported that participants in the norm-based intervention also engaged in non-targeted behaviors. These results emphasize the importance of identifying how different intervention techniques may activate different goals, framing both how people think about and act upon targeted pro-environmental behaviors.

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