CommitmentOpen Access

Commitment

Once we’ve made a public statement, we make consistent decisions to support it

Making written or verbal declarations greatly affects our future behavior as we aim to appear rational and avoid being seen as inconsistent by others.

Pallak et al. (1980). Commitment and energy conservation. Applied Social Psychology Annual, Volume 1, 235-253.

The study

Setup

212 Iowan households had their energy use tracked for a year with the aim of reducing it. Half who agreed to reduce were told their name would be shown publicly in the local paper.

Results

Those publicly committing demonstrated a 15.5% larger average reduction in energy use over winter.

Study graph

Key Takeaways

Anchor any request with a leading question that supports others’ positive judgements of themselves or their past decisions.

Takeaway image

Start with a small request that allows the respondent to remain consistent with their answer to this question. Commitments are self-reinforcing and build over time, so build slowly on this initial commitment with further, larger requests such as a future product purchase.

Takeaway image

Make it public. Declaring an opinion to others on a subject or product will compel consumers to remain consistent with and even strengthen this opinion in future, especially if written down. e.g. asking others to tweet why they love a product will strengthen attachment to it, as well as fostering social proof for others.

Takeaway image
Takeaway image
Commitment

Commitment

Once we’ve made a public statement, we make consistent decisions to support it

Making written or verbal declarations greatly affects our future behavior as we aim to appear rational and avoid being seen as inconsistent by others.

The study

Setup

212 Iowan households had their energy use tracked for a year with the aim of reducing it. Half who agreed to reduce were told their name would be shown publicly in the local paper.

Results

Those publicly committing demonstrated a 15.5% larger average reduction in energy use over winter.

study graph
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Risk Aversion
We don’t like uncertainty and generally stick to what we know

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Risk Aversion
We don’t like uncertainty and generally stick to what we know
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