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

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.

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Results

Results

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

Study graph
np_read_2490885_000000

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

Key Takeaways

1
1

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

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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.

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3
3

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.

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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
np_read_2490885_000000

In detail

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We copy the behaviors of others, especially in unfamiliar situations

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A loss hurts more than an equal gain feels good

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We’re hardwired to return kindness received

Framing

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We make very different decisions based on how a fact is presented

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Anchoring

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What we see first affects our judgement of everything thereafter

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We make knee-jerk spontaneous decisions that can cause regretful damage

Dynamic Norms

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Salience

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