Motivating sustainable behavior through cognitive interventions in product design
Author(s)Saadi, Jana I.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Mechanical Engineering.
Maria C. Yang.
MetadataShow full item record
Designing products to encourage sustainable behavior during their use can have a significant influence on their total environmental impact. Cognitive interventions can be used to inform users of the importance of sustainable behavior and make users aware of the resources they consume. These interventions can help users understand the consequences of their actions and evoke positive or negative emotions that can motivate them to adopt sustainable behavior. This paper investigated two methods of cognitive interventions: information and feedback. Positive and negative message framing of the informative intervention were also considered. The study examined the effectiveness of these interventions in encouraging users to reduce their napkin consumption in cafés. A survey was also conducted to understand the environmental concerns around napkin consumption as well as the emotions and perceived effectiveness of each intervention. The number of napkins per consumer in each café showed a short-term behavior change for positive information, a longer-term behavior change for negative information, and no behavior change for feedback. Results from 295 valid survey responses showed that the positively framed informative design reminded users to use less napkins in order to save more trees and was dominated by positive emotions such as feeling encouraged. The negative information message informed users to use less napkins and the consequences of napkin usage on the environment and was related to negative emotions such as guilt and worry. The feedback intervention's message was more informative, reminding users that napkins come from trees and the emotions evoked from the intervention closely resembled that of the control. These findings suggest that information and feedback interventions that evoke emotions can be used to promote sustainable behavior.
This electronic version was submitted by the student author. The certified thesis is available in the Institute Archives and Special Collections.Thesis: S.M., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Mechanical Engineering, 2020Cataloged from student-submitted PDF of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 48-50).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Mechanical Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology