Turn off the Tap: Behavioural messages increase water efficiency during toothbrushing

Seger, Charles, Bogelein, Sandra, Meleady, Rose, Lede, Ellin, Sexton, Nick, Brown, Andrew, Castelvecchi, Sarah, Davies, William and Barnett, Paul (2019) Turn off the Tap: Behavioural messages increase water efficiency during toothbrushing. Institute of Water Journal (3). pp. 42-47.

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Abstract

Reducing consumer demand is part of a multidimensional strategy to increase water resilience. Theory-based ‘nudges’ or behaviour-change strategies may be effective at reducing demand at little cost. This paper reports a unique partnership between GlaxoSmithKline, water utility Anglian Water, and researchers at the University of East Anglia. Two experimental studies drawing on the strengths of these organizations investigated a behaviour change intervention designed to reduce water usage when toothbrushing. Study 1 tested the efficacy of three theory-based behavioural messages (social norms, ingroup norms, and collective efficacy) designed to encourage participants (N = 164) to turn off the tap whilst brushing teeth. In an actual toothbrushing scenario, all three messages proved to be effective compared to a no-treatment control condition. In study 2, homes in Newmarket, Suffolk (N = 382) were given toothbrushing packs containing a collective efficacy message that highlighted turning off the tap while toothbrushing. Smart-meter recorded water usage was obtained for three weeks before and three weeks after receiving the toothbrushing packs. Household water usage significantly decreased after receiving the packs. A control group of N = 382 households did not show a significant decrease in water usage during this timeframe. These studies suggest that behavioural messages from public or private companies can be effective in reducing real-world water usage while toothbrushing. This model of collaboration between industry, water utilities, and academics can serve as a model of best practice for public and private companies interested in reducing household water usage.

Item Type: Article
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 02 May 2019 13:30
Last Modified: 30 Jun 2020 23:28
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/70798
DOI:

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