Friday, May 14, 2010

Conservatives vs Liberals: another difference

So, it seems that if you give people feedback on how much energy they use in the home, their response differs based on political affiliation.
“Nudges” are being widely promoted to encourage energy conservation. We show that while the electricity conservation “nudge” of providing feedback to households on own and peers’ home electricity usage works with liberals, it can backfire with conservatives. Our regression estimates predict that a Democratic household that pays for electricity from renewable sources, that donates to environmental groups, and that lives in a liberal neighborhood reduces its consumption by 3 percent in response to this nudge. A Republican household that does not pay for electricity from renewable sources and that does not donate to environmental groups increases its consumption by 1 percent.

Energy Conservation "Nudges" and Environmentalist Ideology: Evidence from a Randomized Residential Electricity Field Experiment. Dora L. Costa, Matthew E. Kahn

Strange. So if you show people how much energy they use, environmentally minded liberals do their best to conserve, whereas Republicans turn up the thermostat. Burn, baby, Burn.


Wormwood's Doxy said...

At Dear Friend's church, they started sending out little "nudges" in the weekly e-mails. One outraged parishioner e-mailed back (anonymously, of course) to say that zie* didn't appreciate being told how to save energy and that those notes made hir* want to go out and buy a bigger SUV!

I still wonder who it was and whether or not that person is still attending church....


*I am adopting gender-neutral pronouns because I have no idea whether the writer was male or female and these are so much easier!

JCF said...

But don't you know: if we don't burn all the energy we can, the terrorists have won?! :-0


In my first year in seminary (UTS 1990), my dorm floor had a meeting regarding recycling (thereby both reducing waste, and keeping the floor kitchen cleaner, too!).

One resident of the dorm showed little interest in the team effort (volunteering to take separated recyclables to down to institutional bins in the basement, IIRC). "Don't you know Union is a Green Zone?" asked another resident, plaintively. "Well, I'm declaring myself my own little Brown Zone!" the first resident responded.

I really think that, apart from political ideology, the Nudge Factor's effectiveness has a LOT to do w/ other social demographics (race and class, for example. In the above little drama, I'll leave you to guess which of the two characters was white, and which wasn't!)