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Decreasing Fuel-Oil Consumption Through Feedback and Social Commendation

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, Number 9, p.147-152 (1976)



fuel-oil consumption, commendation, consumer behavior, feedback, recording, measurement, humans


The energy crisis of the winter of 1973-74 led to severe shortages of fuel oil for home heating and a government request for voluntary conservation by the oil consumer. This experiment tested two methods of facilitating fuel-oil conservation. Home fuel-oil consumers were randomly assigned to one of three experimental groups: feedback of information on rate of oil use, feedback plus commendation for reduced consumption, or a no-treatment control. The consumption rate for the feedback plus commendation group was significantly lower than that of either the informational feedback group or the control group. The informational feedback group did not differ from the control group. The results suggest that feedback alone may not result in oil conservation, but that feedback combined with commendation can produce socially significant savings.