Unsurprisingly, but significantly, the big energy users showed an even larger decrease when they received the unhappy emoticon. The more important finding was that when below-average energy users received the happy emoticon, the boomerang effect completely disappeared! When they were merely told that their energy use was below average, they felt that they had some “room” to increase consumption, but when the informational message was combined with an emotional nudge, they didn’t adjust their use upward. Many people, including Republicans and Democrats alike, are arguing for energy conservation on grounds of national security, economic growth, and environmental protection. To promote energy conservation, a great deal can be done with well-chosen social nudges.
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