Promoting Persistent Behaviors to Reduce Water Use in the Absence of Volumetric Pricing

URL: http://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2023014118

The authors discuss how they used Feedback and Building Motivation, Engagement and Habits Over Time to reduce water use by 15-25% in an affluent community in India that had flat-rate pricing. The effects persisted for more than a year, after which marginal pricing was introduced.

  • The authors implemented a five-week habit change intervention, designed to achieve persistent change in household water conservation behavior in 120 households in an affluent residential community in urban India that had a flat rate for water use. They randomly assigned households into three treatment groups and a control group. The treatment groups received one of three variants of a one page weekly water usage report. They achieved a 15 to 25% reduction in water use. The effects persisted for more than a year, after which marginal pricing was introduced.
  • The authors suggest that "a sustainability-driven objective goal can activate the slow reflective mind such that it interferes with the automatic responses that we wish to change. A difficult conservation goal, when presented in a way that is quick and easy to grasp, will increase the chance that the goal is actually understood. Once the goal is understood and a difficult challenge is accepted (which is more likely in households that are not too far from the goal), it remains available to guide subsequent actions and to interfere with automatic responses. A progress report recording a successful outcome (i.e., progress toward the goal) serves as further motivation, leading to a greater acceptance of the goal either directly (e.g., by feeling good) or indirectly (e.g., in pursuit of a larger good)."
  • "Informational aids can help steer response to the stimulus and enhance self-efficacy, making it easier for an individual to adopt the modified action. When such interventions are repeated, the modified response to stimulus turns habitual over time and becomes part of a new automatic response."
Topics: Environment:, Water efficiency, Climate change adaptation
Location: India
Resource Type: strategies and interventions
Publisher: PNAS
Date Last Updated: 2023-03-14 17:00:29

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