1.Black, R., Davidson, P., & Retra, K. (2010). Intrinsic Changes: Energy Saving Behaviour among Resident University Students. Australian Journal of Environmental Education, 26, 85-99. 

  • Study Sought to appeal to student’s intrinsic motivations.
  • The primary recommendations for this study were 1) real time feedback through “eco monitors” and 2) distinct presentation style (ex: highlighting key messages and layering information).
  • Methods: "This study used an experimental design with three groups: a control group (energy consumption measured and no intervention); intervention group A (ecoMeters mounted on a wall in their kitchen or living room) and intervention group B (social marketing approach, then later a combination of social marketing and ecoMeters). The ecoMeter units provided energy consumed, equivalent dollar cost, and greenhouse gases produced, and indicated the level of energy use through display lights [Dependent Variables].  Each intervention was conducted over a 7 week trial period." 
  • Collection of Eco Meter Data: "Each residence had a smart or interval meter installed on the outside of the residence, which communicated to the in-house ecoMeters and allowed us to receive web-based electricity consumption data for that residence. In order to evaluate the impact of these tools the researchers collected quantitative energy use data as well as qualitative responses from the participants using focus groups and an on-line questionnaire."
  • Collection of Social Intervention Data: "Three information posters targeting three behaviors were used. The posters highlighted key messages, layered information and suggested ways students could reduce their energy use. The artistic concepts followed the principles of being attractive, brief and clear (Fazio & Gilbert, 1986). Qualitative data was gathered to better understand the students' perception of the behaviour change tools. The survey had style statements requiring the student to indicate their level of agreement. The survey was accessed through an online link (administered through Survey Monkey)."
  • Results: “The residences receiving the interventions had consistently lower electricity consumption averages than the control group, with social marketing using 24% less electricity and the combined group using 22% less.”


2. Emanuel, R., & Adams, J. N. (2011). College students' perceptions of campus sustainability. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 12(1), 79–92. 

  • Study sought to look at difference in knowledge regarding sustainability efforts between University of Alabama and University of Hawaii. 
  • The study found no apparent “knowledge gap” but there was an apparent “commitment gap”. 
  • Methods: “Two approaches were used to address these questions. First, a summary of sustainability efforts at universities in Alabama and Hawaii is provided. Second, a random sample of 406 undergraduate students at two universities in Alabama (n=258) and at a community college in Hawaii (n=148) were surveyed.”
  • Results: "Survey respondents' were similar in their self-assessed knowledge about sustainability. Respondents were also similar in their views about who is responsible for sustainability. However, a consistently larger proportion of Hawaii respondents expressed concern for and willingness to participate in sustainable practices."

3.Harries, T., Rettie, R., Studley, M., Burchell, K., Chambers, Simon.(2013). Is Social Norms Marketing Effective, a Case Study in Domestic Electricity Consumption. European Journal of Marketing. 47(9). 1458-1475. 

  • Study looks to see if real-time feedback (individual and comparison to others) affects electricity consumption.
  • Study found that both individual feedback and feedback when compared to others in locality reduced electricity consumption by similar amounts (vs. controls).  Relevant to Kill-A-Watt program since it demonstrates that program can be promoted without necessarily using competition based events (individual feedback is sufficient).
  • Methods: “Digital technologies were used to automatically measure and communicate the electricity consumption of 316 UK residents for a period of 16 weeks. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three experimental conditions: one involving no feedback; one involving feedback about a household's own usage, and one involving a household's own usage plus social norms feedback (the average consumption of others in the locality). At the end of the study, a selection of participants took part in interviews or focus groups."
  • Results:"Both types of feedback (individual and individual-plus-social-norms) led to reductions in consumption of about 3 per cent."


4.Levy, B. L. M., & Marans, R. W. (2012). Towards a campus culture of environmental sustainability: Recommendations for a large university. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 13(4), 365–377. 

  • Study looks at pro-environmental approaches that were effective at the University of Michigan and how other Universities promote such behaviors. 
  • Study found that when university staff members were given responsibility for monitoring their buildings' energy usage and promoting energy conservation (on a voluntary basis), energy use in their building areas declined.
  • Methods: "The authors synthesize research on fostering environmental behavior, analyze how current campus sustainability efforts align with that research, and describe how they developed research-based recommendations to increase environmental sustainability on the UM campus."
  • Results: "UM should support three types of activities to support the development of pro-environment behaviors: Education, Engagement, and Assessment." In terms of engagement (as most relevant to our primary recommendation) the study found that when university members were given responsibility for promoting energy conservation then the energy usage in their buildings declined significantly.


5. McCalley, L. T., & Midden, C. J. H. (11-6/02 ). Energy conservation through product-integrated feedback: The roles of goal-setting and social orientation. Journal of Economic Psychology, 23(5), 589–603. Retrieved from

  • States that immediate feedback allows for generally the greatest increase in energy reduction. Additionally, it was found that people identifying as pro-self (more introverted) used less energy when they were allowed to self-set a goal, while pro-social (more extroverted) individuals used less energy when they were assigned an energy goal.
  • Methods: "The task was fully computerized and consisted first of a short list of questions asking for the subject’s age, gender, education level, household size, and number of washes done on a weekly basis. This was followed by a short test of social orientation which was in the form of a game. Next, subjects were given ten washing trials to complete via a graphic representation of the washing machine control panel. These ten trials served as practice and to set the baseline level of energy used per wash. Subjects then completed 20 more washing trials and ended the session with a short questionnaire about their opinion of the interface and of energy issues.
            The effectiveness of goal-setting was tested using three feedback groups; (1) feedback with no-goal manipulation, (2) feedback with a self-set goal, and (3) feedback with an experimenter assigned goal. A fourth group was tested under a no-feedback-no-goal condition and served as the baseline control. Nested within this design was a 2×2 factorial design testing the difference between groups divided as to social orientation (pro-self or pro-social) in their response to the goal-setting conditions of self- and experimenter-set goals."  
  • Results: "The study found that both goal groups, self-set and assigned, reduced their energy use by 21.9% and 19.5% respectively. When goal-setting was not used, feedback was not successful in encouraging energy conservation and resulted in no difference in energy use from a control condition in which no-feedback was given."


6. Petersen, J. Shunturov, V. Janda, K., Platt, G., Weinberger K. (2007). Dormitory residents reduce electricity consumption when exposed to real-time visual feedback and incentives. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 8(1), 16-33. 

  • Study looks to compare how different types of feedback, combined with incentives, promote students to conserve resource
  • Methods: "An automated data monitoring system was developed that provided dormitory residents with real-time web-based feedback on energy and water use in two “high resolution” dormitories. In contrast, utility meters were manually read for 20 “low-resolution” dormitories, and data were provided to residents once per week. For both groups, resource use was monitored during a baseline period and during a two week “dorm energy competition” during which feedback, education and conservation incentives were provided."
  • Results: "The introduction of feedback, education, and incentives allowed for a 32 percent reduction in electricity use.  This amounted to savings of 68,300 kWh, $5,107 and 148,000 lbs of CO −2. Additionally, dormitories that received high resolution feedback were proven to be more effective at conservation, reducing their electricity consumption by 55 percent compared to the 31 percent for low resolution dormitories."


7. Katzev, R. (1986). The Impact of Commitment in Promoting Consumer Energy Conservation. In Consumer Behavior and Energy Policy(pp. 280–294). New York: Praeger.


  • Study looks at the impact of commitment with regards to encouraging consumers to conserve energy.
  • Methods: “…individuals are induced to make a commitment to conserve energy. In the single request procedure, individuals are simply asked to make a commitment to engage in a particular energy conserving behaviors, such as carpooling or recycling. In the multiple request procedure, such as the food-in-the-door technique, this target commitment is preceded by a smaller request, such as answering a short energy conservation questionnaire.”
  • Results: Both written and verbal commitments are shown increase environmental action, however written commitments have the largest effect.  Incentives are also useful, and a small incentive is best because they cause sustained behavioral changes after the incentive is removed.  This is because smaller incentives allow for one to have more of an intrinsic motivation to change their behavior, while larger incentives result in people changing their actions solely for the benefit of receiving the incentive.



8. Keller, J. J. (1991). The recycling solution: How I increased recycling on Dilworth Road. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 24(4), 617–619.

  • Study was attempting to assess whether feedback and incentives could increase recycling.
  • Method: The method was a one-time experiment involving single treatment (combination of feedback and small incentive) compared with a control group. Keller distributed notes to Dilworth Road West and noted how many people on the road had recycled that week, and compared the results to Dilworth Road East, in which he did not leave any notes indicating the level of recycling.
  • Results: Keller found that by giving a written commitment and showing comparing results between individuals/groups gave a motivational incentive, which would remain even when they stopped receiving comparison feedback.


9. Brittle, C., & Zint, M. (2010, June). Do newspapers lead with lead? A content analysis of how lead health risks to children are covered. Journal of environmental health, 65(10), 17-22. 


  • The study attempts to look at the coverage of lead in newspapers through the use of content analysis.
  • Methods: In order to collect a representative sample of newspaper articles focusing on lead, a search for articles through the electronic database Lexis-Nexis was performed. After narrowing down articles, each article was read and coded for the following variables: "length (in words), the section of the newspaper it appeared in, its news peg-that is, the event that triggered the coverage (e.g., a court case), whether the article provided information on the number of cases of lead poisoning, whether it described specific health effects of lead poisoning, whether it provided information about how to abate lead, what sources of lead exposure it mentioned, whether it provided sources of additional information about lead."
  • Results: This research showed that environmental communication campaigns should provide their audience with information regarding who and what is at risk as well as strategies and procedural knowledge on how to minimize risk.  This procedural knowledge is critical in inducing behavior changes, as people are more likely to make positive changes if they know how.  Also, this information raises self-efficacy, and people are more likely to act if they feel they can make a difference.


10. Lorenzoni, I., Nicholson-Cole, S., & Whitmarsh, L. (2007). Barriers perceived to engaging with climate change among the UK public and their policy implications. Global Environmental Change17(3), 445–459.

  • Methods: This article incorporated three studies in the UK, including the Norwich study, South of England study, and the Norwich and Rome study.  These studies employed surveys, questionnaires, interviews, and focus groups to determine participants’ perceived barriers in taking action to mitigate climate change.  A combination of qualitative and quantitative data was collected as a form of triangulation.
  • Results: This psychology article finds that widespread knowledge about climate change exists, and people generally believe that there is personal, social, and/or moral responsibility to address climate change.  However, people do not act in an environmentally friendly way due to real or perceived barriers to action.  Among these barriers are feelings of fatality—the feeling that it is too late to save the environment—and helplessness—the feeling that the issue to too widespread for personal action to make a difference.  The article advocates that marketing techniques create awareness, acceptance, and norms in respect to climate change action among social groups and their networks.  Campaigns should address the audience and their concerns by appealing to benefits of behavior change.


11. Hastings, G., Stead, M., & Webb, J. (2004). Fear Appeals in Social Marketing: Strategic and Ethical Reasons for Concern. Psychology and Marketing21(11), 961–986.

  • Methods: This article is a synthesis of past research on fear appeals in health campaigns.  It explores past laboratory research that has been conducted on fear appeals in social marketing campaigns, and uses this knowledge to make recommendations for future campaigns.
  • Results: “Shock ads” may be effective at gaining a viewer’s attention initially, but are unlikely to continue to work after repeated exposure.  This repetition can lead to defensive avoidance strategies, used to tune out or ignore a fearful message.  Ethical theory and practitioner code of conduct demonstrate that there are ethical concerns with the use of fear appeals to manipulate viewers, and the authors find that their use should be avoided.  It suggests that appeals based on positive emotions can be equally, if not more, effective.
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