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Joint Effect of Feedback and Goal Setting on Performance: A Field Study of Residential Energy Conservation

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Journal of Applied Psychology, Volume 63, Number 4, p.428-433 (1978)



energy efficiency, feedback, goal setting


The facilitating motivational effect of feedback on performance has been attributed by some to difficult goals set in response to feedback.^In this article, the effect was attributed to the presence of both a difficult goal and feedback about performance in relation to that goal.^Eighty families were asked to set a goal to reduce their residential electricity consumption for several weeks during the summer, half of them by 20% (a difficult goal) and half by 2% (an easy goal).^Within each of these groups, half of the families were given feedback three times a week about their consumption.^Twenty more families served as a control.^As predicted, the 20%-feedback group conserved the most (13.0% - 15.1%) and was the only one that consumed significantly less electricity than the control.^It was concluded that improved performance was a result of the joint effect of feedback and goal setting.^The implications of this research for a national residential conservation strategy are discussed.^20 references, 2 tables.