Promoting energy conservation with implied norms and explicit messages

The goal of this research was to test the role of contextually implied descriptive social norms in promoting energy conservation, and the norm– salience consequences of posted messages. In Experiment 1, the norm in a campus computer laboratory was manipulated (all unused computers/monitors turned on or off) as well as activation of the norm (small signs posted directing that machines/ monitors be turned off before leaving, or no posted signs). Researchers observed and recorded the behavior of 308 participants. As hypothesized, results showed that students were significantly more likely to shut down their computers and monitors in the condition with all machines preset to be off and the small signs posted. A second experiment was conducted to provide a practical test of the norm-aligned condition. The results showed that computers and monitors were shut down significantly more often in the norm-aligned condition than in the control condition (no sign posted and all machines/monitors left on). The results are discussed in terms of the Focus Theory of Normative Conduct. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Social Influence on April 5, 2013, available online: OR