Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 419523
Title Public Praise vs. Private Pay: Effects of Rewards on Energy Conservation in the Workplace
Author(s) Handgraaf, M.J.J.; Lidth de Jeude, M. van; Appelt, K.C.
Source SSRN
Department(s) Economics of Consumers and Households Group
Publication type Working paper aimed at scientific audience
Publication year 2011
Abstract Any solution to rising levels of CO2 depends on human behavior. One common approach to changing human behavior is rewarding desired behavior. Because financial incentives often have side effects that diminish efficacy, we predict that more psychologically oriented social rewards are more effective, because they invoke adherence to descriptive and injunctive social norms. We investigated this by measuring electricity use for 13 weeks at a Dutch firm. Each week, employees were rewarded for conserving energy. They either received monetary rewards (€0-€5) or social rewards (grade points with a descriptive comment). Rewards were either private or public. In both the short and long term, public rewards outperformed private rewards, and social rewards outperformed monetary rewards. This suggests that private monetary rewards, although popular, may be ineffective. Instead, public social rewards may be a more promising approach to stimulating energy conservation. Such social rewards do not crowd out intrinsic motivation, have less need for large-scale institutions or exogenous funding, and work regardless of who is paying the energy bill. Thus, we argue that the social norms approach should be considered more frequently as a valuable tool in the intervention tool-kit, especially when focusing on low-cost environmental behavior.
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