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Water 2018, 10(3), 275; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10030275

Still Waters Run Deep: Comparing Assertive and Suggestive Language in Water Conservation Campaigns

1
Department of Geography & Environmental Studies, University of Haifa, Haifa 39105, Israel
2
Manning School of Business, University of Massachusetts, Lowell, MA 01854, USA
3
D’Amore-McKim School of Business, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115, USA
4
The School of Business and Economics, The Vrije Universiteit, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
5
The Federmann School of Public Policy and Government, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Mt. Scopus, Jerusalem 91905, Israel
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 1 November 2017 / Revised: 3 January 2018 / Accepted: 22 February 2018 / Published: 5 March 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in the Economic Analysis of Residential Water Use)
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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. View Full-Text
Keywords: demarketing; assertive language; water conservation; controlled field experiment demarketing; assertive language; water conservation; controlled field experiment
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Katz, D.; Kronrod, A.; Grinstein, A.; Nisan, U. Still Waters Run Deep: Comparing Assertive and Suggestive Language in Water Conservation Campaigns. Water 2018, 10, 275.

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