Overcoming Salience Bias: How Real-Time Feedback Fosters Resource Conservation

Faculty/Professorship: Information Systems and Energy Efficient Systems  
Author(s): Tiefenbeck, Verena; Goette, Lorenz; Degen, Kathrin; Tasic, Vojkan; Fleisch, Elgar; Lalive, Rafael; Staake, Thorsten
Title of the Journal: Management Science
ISSN: 1526-5501
Publisher Information: Hanover, Md. : INFORMS
Year of publication: 2018
Volume: 64
Issue: 3
Pages: 1458-1476
Language(s): English
DOI: 10.1287/mnsc.2016.2646
Inattention and imperfect information bias behavior toward the salient and immediately visible. This distortion creates costs for individuals, the organizations in which they work, and society at large. We show that an effective way to overcome this bias is by making the implications of one’s behavior salient in real time, while individuals can directly adapt. In a large-scale field experiment, we gave participants real-time feedback on the resource consumption of a daily, energy-intensive activity (showering). We find that real-time feedback reduced resource consumption for the target behavior by 22%. At the household level, this led to much larger conservation gains in absolute terms than conventional policy interventions that provide aggregate feedback on resource use. High baseline users displayed a larger conservation effect, in line with the notion that real-time feedback helps eliminate “slack” in resource use. The approach is cost effective, is technically applicable to the vast majority of households, and generated savings of 1.2 kWh per day and household, which exceeds the average energy use for lighting. The intervention also shows how digitalization in our everyday lives makes information available that can help individuals overcome salience bias and act more in line with their preferences.
Keywords: salience of information, digitalization, real-time feedback, green information systems, decision making, energy conservation, water conservation, environmental behavior, randomized controlled trials
Peer Reviewed: Ja
International Distribution: Ja
Type: Article
URI: https://fis.uni-bamberg.de/handle/uniba/44421
Year of publication: 31. August 2018