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From Motivation and Cognition Theories to Everyday Applications and Back Again: The Case of Product-Integrated Information and Feedback

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Energy Policy, p.34- (2006)



Energy conservation, feedback, goal setting


Various moderators of the relationship of goal setting and feedback are explored in four examples of applied empirical research. A selection of theoretical frameworks adapted from varied disciplines guided the studies and are discussed in terms of their value to the particular questions investigated. The experiments all entailed the use of product-integrated energy feedback and illustrate a progressive understanding of how goals, feedback and other information provided to the user can generate or support better energy conservation. Experiment 1 exemplifies the successful use of combining goal setting and feedback, and provides a basic understanding of the interaction from the perspectives of goal setting theory and feedback intervention theory (FIT). Experiment 2 compares FIT to another, fundamentally different, cognitive framework, and the minimal justification principle. The study gives insight into how goals and feedback work through attention focus and the goal hierarchy to guide behavior, the role of attitude in this process, and offers evidence that FIT better accounts for task specific conservation behavior. Experiment 3 addresses the role of goals and information in strategy planning through the perspective of goal setting theory. Results of this study suggest the need for more development of the basic theory and illustrate the strong motivational properties of having a goal. Experiment 4 investigates a more fundamental process, anchoring bias, taken from decision theory and the theory of rational choice. This experiment was based again on FIT and provided further evidence of behavioral control through the focus of attention at a particular level of the goal hierarchy. Findings are discussed in terms of potential energy savings and policy development impact.