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Understanding the impact of social norms on private behaviours: Examining on-campus shower use

Elaine GallagherSpeaker

Elaine Gallagher


Tuesday 9 February at 5.15pm


Room 3.15, Chancellors' Building, University of Bath (Location and maps)


In line with the targets of the 2008 Climate Change Act, the University of Bath is committed to greatly reducing the carbon footprint of the University to sustainable levels. The overuse of water is one carbon intensive activity which must be addressed due to the excessive amounts which are consumed on campus on a daily basis. This research focused on shower related water use as this is a behaviour which can vary dramatically from person to person. Having first collected data to establish the length of time spent in the shower, a social norms intervention was then applied, as social norms interventions have been shown to be a robust behaviour change mechanism. This involved providing students with information about how their shower time compared with the average time of the other participants, with an expectation that students would alter their shower duration in line with the average, or social norm. As social norms are generally effective for public behaviours, it is uncertain as to their effectiveness in changing private behaviours such as showering. This exploratory study aimed to uncover the utility of a social norms intervention in altering students showering times.