Social influence approaches to encourage resource conservation: A meta-analysis

Wokje Abrahamse*, Linda Steg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademic

225 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Would somebody be more willing to start recycling if they knew that their friends were all recycling? Social influence refers to the ways in which our behaviour is affected by what other people do, or by what other people think. Various insights from theories of social influence have been applied as part of interventions to encourage resource conservation, such as the use of social norms, social learning, and social comparison processes. The question arises: Is social influence as effective as is sometimes assumed? This review compares the effectiveness of different social influence approaches to encourage resource conservation via a meta-analysis and outlines what remains to be learned about the mechanisms linking social influence to behaviour change. A random-effects meta-analysis with a sample of 29 studies revealed that social influence approaches were effective when compared to a control group. They were also more effective when compared to another intervention, although in this case the effect size was small. The effectiveness was different for different social influence approaches and for different target groups. These findings raise a number of important questions, which form the basis of a research agenda for better understanding the processes through which social influence approaches encourage resource conservation. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1773-1785
Number of pages13
JournalGlobal Environmental Change
Volume23
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2013

Keywords

  • Social influence
  • Meta-analysis
  • Behavior change
  • Resource conservation
  • ENERGY-CONSERVATION
  • FIELD-EXPERIMENT
  • PUBLIC COMMITMENT
  • FEEDBACK INTERVENTIONS
  • TAILORED INFORMATION
  • CONSUMER-BEHAVIOR
  • PLANNED BEHAVIOR
  • EFFECT SIZE
  • NORMS
  • CONSUMPTION

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