Social Psychologist Speaks About Effective Conservation Messaging

The San Gabriel Valley Water Association hosted it's Quarterly Membership Luncheon on Wednesday, August 12th, 2015, at Swiss Park Restaurant and Banquet Center. Mr. Phillip Ehret, social psychologist and researcher with the University of California, Santa Barbara, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, gave a presentation on effective strategies for conservation outreach.

Mr. Ehret, whose research interests include exploring why people persistently engage in maladaptive behaviors, explained that while providing tips and rebates to customers may result in some desired outcomes, the most effective motivator for human behavior has been found to be social pressure. Receiving accurate information about one's own water use and getting a realistic estimation of one's neighbors' use is much more effective in driving conservation-based decision making than providing simple water saving tips. Interestingly, Mr. Ehret added that we often underestimate our water use and, on average, use up to twice as much water as we think. Individuals don't want to be seen as the only ones not pulling their weight. One can see the influence of this type of research in the more successful public outreach campaigns today.

The presentation provided relevant and timely food for thought for the producers, legislative staff, and members present. Mr. Ehret took audience questions and provided his contact information (here) for anyone who wished to follow up with further discussion.

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