Changing Simple Energy-Related Consumer Behaviors: How the Enactment of Intentions Is Thwarted by Acting and Non-Acting Habits

Pieter Walter de Vries, Henk Aarts, Cees J.H. Midden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Achieving ambitious CO2 emission reductions require changing mundane consumer behaviors in addition to increasing modern technology’s energy-saving potential. Frequently, energy-related behaviors, however, may occur highly and thus tend to become habitual. On basis of the notion that habits represent automatic reactions to situations, and hence, are hard to control, we examined whether the capability to perform or abstain from performing actions depends on the type of habit established. We tested whether an acting habit (switching off the light upon leaving a room) supports execution of the intention to act (switching it off), but hinders the intention to abstain from acting (not switching it off). Conversely, a habit of not switching off the light (a non-acting habit) is expected to obstruct execution of the intention to switch the light off, but facilitates the intention to not switch it off. Results support these ideas, and underscore the importance of differentiating between habits resulting from frequently acting and frequently not acting.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)612-633
JournalEnvironment and behavior
Volume43
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Keywords

  • METIS-282091
  • IR-80688
  • Energy conservation
  • acting habits
  • intentions
  • non-acting habits
  • habits

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