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A Social-Psychological Analysis of Residential Electricity Consumption: The Impact of Minimal Justification Techniques

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Journal of Economic Psychology, Volume 3, Number 3/4/2007, p.267-284 (1983)





commitment, energy efficiency


To explore the impact of the foot-in-the-door technique on residential energy conservation 66 homeowners were asked to curtail their consumption of electricity by 10%. In the Foot-in-the-Door condition this target request was preceded by a more moderate one to answer a short energy conservation questionnaire. Homeowners in the Second Request Only condition simply received the conservation request while those in the First Request Only condition received the questionnaire alone. These groups were compared to a Control group of homeowners who were never asked to comply to either request. The groups did not differ in electricity consumption during the 2 week baseline period or in their percentage change from baseline during the 4 week request period. However, throughout the 12 week follow-up period homeowners in all three request groups consumed significantly less electricity than Controls. In addition, the Foot-in-the-Door group contained significantly more Conservers than any other group. These findings were contrasted with the results of behavioral energy studies emphasizing strong external justifications. The implications of minimal justification techniques for producing long-term maintenance of energy conserving behaviors and for promoting their occurrence across a large population of individuals were also discussed.