Still waters run deep: Comparing assertive and suggestive language in water conservation campaigns

David Katz, Ann Kronrod, Amir Grinstein, Udi Nisan

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

The current work focuses on non-price policies to achieve residential water conservation, specifically on water conservation campaigns. The authors report the results of a large-scale longitudinal field experiment encouraging residential water conservation among 1500 households. The effectiveness of two commonly-used message phrasings is compared: an assertive and a suggestive message. Assertive messages employ a commanding tone, such as "You must conserve water", whereas suggestive messages employ a more gentle approach, as in "Please consider conserving water". Despite the ubiquitous use of assertive phrasing in pro-social messages, and previous research that suggests that, in some cases, assertive language can increase message compliance, the authors show here that the suggestive, gentler, message language can make a more accentuated change in residential water conservation behavior. This may stem from the status of water as a basic needs resource, which may reduce the appropriateness of freedom restricting language, such as an assertive tone.

Original languageEnglish
Article number275
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Volume10
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 Mar 2018

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Water conservation
water conservation
Language
campaign
conservation
water
Water
language
basic needs
compliance
households
basic need
stems
resource
Compliance
Experiments
experiment
Research
resources

Keywords

  • Assertive language
  • Controlled field experiment
  • Demarketing
  • Water conservation

Cite this

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abstract = "The current work focuses on non-price policies to achieve residential water conservation, specifically on water conservation campaigns. The authors report the results of a large-scale longitudinal field experiment encouraging residential water conservation among 1500 households. The effectiveness of two commonly-used message phrasings is compared: an assertive and a suggestive message. Assertive messages employ a commanding tone, such as {"}You must conserve water{"}, whereas suggestive messages employ a more gentle approach, as in {"}Please consider conserving water{"}. Despite the ubiquitous use of assertive phrasing in pro-social messages, and previous research that suggests that, in some cases, assertive language can increase message compliance, the authors show here that the suggestive, gentler, message language can make a more accentuated change in residential water conservation behavior. This may stem from the status of water as a basic needs resource, which may reduce the appropriateness of freedom restricting language, such as an assertive tone.",
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Still waters run deep : Comparing assertive and suggestive language in water conservation campaigns. / Katz, David; Kronrod, Ann; Grinstein, Amir; Nisan, Udi.

In: Water (Switzerland), Vol. 10, No. 3, 275, 05.03.2018, p. 1-10.

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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