The Impact of Commitment in Promoting Consumer Energy Conservation
This chapter analyzes experimental research on the impact of commitment in encouraging consumers to conserve energy. A brief critique of conventional approaches to this problem is followed by a discussion of the importance of social control processes in promoting conservation. Commitment techniques are introduced as an example of this process. To document its role in producing enduring reductions in energy consumption I then describe my own program of experimental research on bus ridership, residential electricity consumption, and household recycling. The chapter concludes with an assessment of the overall social policy implications of commitment strategies, as well as their potential for encouraging large numbers of consumers to conserve energy.
It has now been a little over 10 years since the first oil price shock. I think it is, therefore, appropriate that we step back from our research for a moment and begin to take stock of the various attempts that have been made during the past decade to deal with the energy crisis precipitated by this event. I propose to do so by briefly noting some of the limitations of most current approaches to this