Motivating online engagement and debates on energy consumption

Piccolo, Lara; Alani, Harith; De Liddo, Anna and Baranauskas, Cecilia (2014). Motivating online engagement and debates on energy consumption. In: WebSci '14 Proceedings of the 2014 ACM conference on Web science, ACM, pp. 109–118.




Several studies and official reports argue that changing people’s behavior towards energy consumption is a vital part of our fight against climate change. Engaging people into this issue is the first step towards a social change. However, it has been shown that information campaigns and technology alone are insufficient to achieve such engagement. Understanding what motivate people, in which contexts and combinations, and for which individuals, is therefore key to engaging the public more successfully in such crucial debates. This work investigates the role and impact of motivational strategies on promoting engagement in online energy debates. We report our results from running an experiment in the workplace, in which 33 people contributed to an online discussion on reducing energy consumption. A public and tangible feedback of contributions to the online debate, as well as social comparison and competition were analyzed as motivational strategies. Our results point out that engagement goes beyond intrinsic motivation, and that a set of interplaying factors influenced by the social context was found to be the stronger motivational force of engagement.

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