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Changing Simple Energy-Related Consumer Behaviors

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Environment and Behavior, Volume 43, Number 5, p.612-633 (2011)



Achieving ambitious CO2 emission reductions require changing mundane consumer behaviors in addition to increasing modern technologyís energy-saving potential. Frequently, energy-related behaviors, however, may occur highly and thus tend to become habitual. On basis of the notion that habits represent automatic reactions to situations, and hence, are hard to control, we examined whether the capability to perform or abstain from performing actions depends on the type of habit established. We tested whether an acting habit (switching off the light upon leaving a room) supports execution of the intention to act (switching it off), but hinders the intention to abstain from acting (not switching it off). Conversely, a habit of not switching off the light (a non-acting habit) is expected to obstruct execution of the intention to switch the light off, but facilitates the intention to not switch it off. Results support these ideas, and underscore the importance of differentiating between habits resulting from frequently acting and frequently not acting.