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The influence of water-conservation messages on reducing household water use

Addo, Isaac B., Thoms, Martin C., Parsons, Melissa
Applied water science 2019 v.9 no.5 pp. 126
behavior change, households, motivation, persuasion, self-efficacy, water conservation, water shortages
As water crises become severe, the desire to explore alternative strategies that focus on the demand-side of water-conservation increase. Changing behaviour through persuasion (message framing) can be an integral part of providing water demand solutions. In this study, we examined the effectiveness of messages related to household water use on water scarcity and intentions to act. We tested whether relationships between communication and water conservation were mediated via increasing capability, opportunity, and motivation behaviour (COM-B dimensions). We applied two message types related to concern about severe water scarcity and conservation strategies to the behaviour change conditions in two combinations: (1) severe water scarcity and water-saving tips/strategies, and (2) severe water scarcity and no water-saving tips/strategies. There was broad support for the hypothesis that COM-B dimensions would mediate the effect of message type on water scarcity concern and intentions to act in conservation activities. Households that received the message framed in terms of water-saving tips/strategies expressed greater water scarcity concern and higher intention to act than those that received the no water-saving tips/strategies message. Mediation analyses showed that the message framed in terms of specific water-saving tips/strategies was mediated by increasing households’ capacity (self-efficacy), opportunity and/or motivation in water-conservation actions. Thus, specific water-conservation strategies made available to households have a stronger impact on water-conservation behaviour because these messages appeal to behavioural change conditions.