Skip to content Skip to navigation

Personal and Contextual Influences on Household Energy Adaptations

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Journal of Applied Psychology, Volume 70, Number 1, p.3-21 (1985)



energy efficiency, norms


Examined the interactive effects of economic, demographic, structural, and psychological variables on 4 behaviorally distinct types of reported conservation response involving energy efficiency improvements or curtailment of the services that energy provides, using data collected from 478 residential customers in 1980. The causal model assumed that contextual variables (i.e., demographic, economic, and structural) may affect behavior indirectly through personal variables (e.g., attitudes, beliefs, norms) and that between personal variables, causality moves from the general through the specific to reported behavior. A path analysis incorporating these assumptions suggested that although behaviors that are relatively unconstrained for most households (such as temperature settings) are strongly influenced by norms, personal variables have much less influence on more constrained actions (such as major insulation activity). The effect of high and rising fuel prices was stronger in producing economic sacrifice than in producing energy savings. The 15 variables used in analysis and their intercorrelations are appended.