Oberlin College and Conservatory

Public Perceptions of Electricity and Water Use

Thursday, February 27, 2014 at 4:30pm

King Building, Room 123
10 North Professor Street, Oberlin, OH 44074

"Public Perceptions of Electricity and Water Use," by Shahzeen Attari, assistant professor at the School of Public & Environmental Affairs (SPEA) at Indiana University, Bloomington.

Understanding the relationship between human behavior and resource use is vital. In this presentation, I summarize my study where participants reported their perceptions of energy consumption for a variety of household activities.

When asked for the single most effective strategy they could implement to conserve energy, most participants mentioned curtailment (e.g., turning off lights) rather than efficiency improvements (e.g., installing more efficient light bulbs), in contrast to experts’ recommendations. 

Participants had small overestimates for low-energy consuming activities and large underestimates for high-energy consuming activities. When asked to recommend energy conservation strategies—individuals want to incorporate easier non-effective behaviors for themselves and want others to implement harder more-effective behaviors.

My recent research investigates public perceptions of water use to understand if similar misperceptions and biases hold.

Sponsored by the Economics Department Danforth-Lewis Speakers Series.

Event Type



Economics, Academic



Contact Person

Terri Pleska, AA

Contact Phone Number


Contact E-mail Address


Google Calendar iCal Outlook

Recent Activity