How might psychological science be utilized to encourage proenvironmental behavior? In two studies, interventions aimed at promoting energy conservation behavior in public bathrooms examined the influences of descriptive norms and personal responsibility. In Study 1, the light status (i.e., on or off) was manipulated before someone entered an unoccupied public bathroom, signaling the descriptive norm for that setting. Participants were significantly more likely to turn the lights off if they were off when they entered. In Study 2, an additional condition was included in which the norm of turning off the light was demonstrated by a confederate, but participants were not themselves responsible for turning it on. Personal responsibility moderated the influence of social norms on behavior when participants were not responsible for turning on the light, the influence of the norm was diminished. These results indicate how descriptive norms and personal responsibility may regulate the effectiveness of proenvironmental interventions.
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- Personal responsibility
- Proenvironmental behavior
- Social norms