Social Pressure

free essaySocial pressure does not just occur randomly in response to the issues society faces. Motivation encourages persons to take action in a desired direction and aims at self-control and lasting effect of changes. Initially, outside forces, or external change agents (pressure and consequences) influence the consumer’s behavior. However, as time goes on, consumer develops habits and behaves the right way on his own. Thus, developed motivation serves as an internal change agent and contributes to the desired change. In the area of energy efficiency among households, understanding consumers’ behavior for application of social pressure is a key to energy saving and reducing energy consumption.

Social Pressure and Energy Consumption

Researchers proved that residential households are one of the energy insufficient zones in the United States. Thus, the assurance that homeowners support the idea of frugal energy consumption provides vast opportunities for energy saving. While it is understandable why property owners should be interested in saving on electricity, one might question why utility companies are among avid supporters of energy saving. The answer is in state regulations that provide incentives and motivate companies to introduce electricity saving techniques and innovations. Also, utility companies have to measure positively against competitors since energy saving is a part of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) of many large enterprises. Thus, sustainability of a company identifies this company as a winning stock in the eyes of investors and lends better credibility and market recognition.

From the consumers’ psychology and behavioral perspective, social pressure helps to shape energy-saving behavior. This can be explained by the theory of collective consciousness. It claims that if a population or a group of people adopts a certain outlook about the product, its value and price, individual consumers will choose to conform to group’s expectations and requirements. It means that if the community is mindful about saving electricity and has attitude of healthy frugality, individual consumers will want to comply and be saving in accordance with community values. Theories of perception and Cardinal Utility state that if electricity saving has value in customers’ eyes, he will accept the need to use less electricity and feel psychological satisfaction from being saving. It means that changes in consumer’s behavior can be affected by social pressure (collective consciousness) and/or incentives (benefits and/or added value). Utility companies can enhance social pressure by sharing comparative data about energy consumption among neighborhood residents and introduction of incentives and rewards for saving consumers. Acknowledgement and appreciation for energy saving will add to the effectiveness of comparison. Also, educating the general public about “greenhouse” effect, need for energy saving and personal and global benefits of it will influence behavioral change. Social pressure and related incentive programs can be applied to saving drinking water and natural gas, as well.

For better understanding of consumer’s behavior, utility company can employ several consumer research methods. The following methods should be effective: individual interviews with household residents, surveys, online research, work with focus groups and market segmentation. Work with focus groups will aid in collecting initial data. Market segmentation will allow identifying age, ethnic groups, gender, attitudes and income level of consumers with the goal of determining the most effective approach for creating healthy social pressure.

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Positive social pressure can do a good service for society. Utility companies can create instruments that influence persons’ behavior to save energy resources and help to develop habits that contribute to the desired change. In the area of energy efficiency among households, understanding consumers’ behavior for application of social pressure is a key to effective energy saving and reducing energy consumption.

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