For Better or for Worse? Empirical Evidence of Moral Licensing in a Behavioral Energy Conservation Campaign

” The results show that residents who received weekly feedback on their water consumption lowered their water use (6.0% on average), but at the same time increased their electricity consumption by 5.6% compared with control subjects. Income effects can be excluded. While follow-up research is needed on the precise mechanism of the psychological process at work, the findings are consistent with the concept of moral licensing, which can more than offset the benefits of focused energy efficiency campaigns, at least in the short-term.”

By Verena Tiefenbeck, Thorsten Staake, Kurt Roth, and Olga Sachs 

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