Behavioural influence in practice

The objective of this research project is to generate scientific understanding and tested techniques to study how, and to what degree, the behaviour of domestic customers can be effectively influenced. This will involve setting up a behavioural influence pilot in the area of water conservation.

From theory to practice

Dealing with water in a conscious and sustainable manner is increasingly becoming a focus of attention in the drinking water sector. If, for example, drinking water customers adjust their water consumption in periods of drought, they can contribute to reducing problems in the distribution network and limiting the damage to nature and the environment. But the question is whether, and how, the customer behaviour can be effectively influenced. In 2019 an initial exploration was carried out by compiling the knowledge and results from 52 (international) studies into the effectiveness of various behavioural influencing tactics in the area of water conservation by domestic customers; the lessons learned were published in a peer-reviewed paper. The central concern of the present project is to explore how, and how effectively, the lessons from this literature study can be translated into practice in the Dutch context and for customers with different perspectives.

Water conservation as a case study

Based on an opportunity map to be developed, and on design principles to be studied, this project will set up a pilot with which knowledge will be generated about water conservation, but also more generally, knowledge about what is possible and what is not possible when it comes to influencing customer behaviour. Such knowledge is not only relevant for drinking water utilities committed to water conservation by its customers, but also for drinking water utilities that want for instance to better understand how customers can deal more sustainably with waste, energy, drinking water and drinking water sources.

What are the deliverables?

This ‘Behavioural Influence in Practice’ project will not only generate systematic insight into the chances and design principles for influencing behaviour in the Dutch water sector, it will also apply it in the area of water conservation. It will involve acquiring empirical knowledge about what is possible and what is not possible when it comes to influencing the behaviour of customers. This knowledge will be translated into concrete behavioural change recommendations for the drinking water sector and, in a wider circle, be shared in a peer-reviewed article and a trade publication.