Aligning theory and measurement in behavioral models of water conservation

Bradley S. Jorgensen, John F. Martin, Meryl W. Pearce, Eileen M. Willis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Discussion in the water literature has called for research on the role of behavioral intentions in explanations of both water demand and water conservation. But previous research has suggested that individual-level motivations are not good predictors of metered household water consumption. Two possible reasons for the lack of association between intentions and actual water conservation are that: (i) conservation behaviors are habitual and (ii) conservation behaviors and intention are measured at different levels of analysis. These explanations were tested in a sample of 415 residential households who provided permission to access their water consumption billing records. The effects of intentions, habit strength, and their interaction were examined in single-person households where the alignment of theory and measurement were the same. While behavioral intentions were associated with selfreports of past water conservation and habit strength, none of these variables were good predictors of water conservation. The implications of these results for the development of attitude theory using metered consumption data are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)762-776
Number of pages15
JournalWater Policy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


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