Saving Power to Conserve Your Reputation? the Effectiveness of Private Versus Public Information
Abstract: Environmental damage is often an unseen byproduct of other activities. Disclosing environmental impact privately to consumers can reduce the costs and/or increase the moral benefits of conservation behaviors, while publicly disclosing such information can provide an additional motivation for conservation - cultivating a green reputation. In a unique field experiment, we test the efficacy of private and public information on electricity conservation. Private information was given through real-time feedback and social norms over usage, and public information was given through a publicly visible conservation rating. While private information alone was ineffective, public information motivated a 20 percent reduction in electricity consumption.