You probably think of someone who exemplifies the “keeping up with the Joneses” mindset as behaving in an obnoxious way. You may roll your eyes at a neighbor preening their immaculate clone-army-of-grass-blades lawn, but you probably still feel a tug that keeps you within the bounds of what our community considers normal. That apparently includes conserving energy.
In a new study, a team led by Columbia Business School’s Jon Jachimowicz and the University of Exeter’s Oliver Hauser set out to better understand why efforts to encourage reduced energy use get different results in different places. And they found evidence that community attitudes may make a bigger difference than personal ones.
Think of your neighbors
The researchers worked with data from a company called Opower, which shows utility customers how their energy use compares to others in their area. Opower randomly selects its participants and keeps a control group of customers for comparison.
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