Be careful who you nudge

A new study by economists from UCLA looked at the effect of a randomised program which informed households of their energy expenditure relative to their peers:

We show that while the electricity conservation “nudge” of providing feedback to households on own and peers’ home electricity usage works with liberals, it can backfire with conservatives. Our regression estimates predict that a Democratic household that pays for electricity from renewable sources, that donates to environmental groups, and that lives in a liberal neighborhood reduces its consumption by 3 percent in response to this nudge. A Republican household that does not pay for electricity from renewable sources and that does not donate to environmental groups increases its consumption by 1 percent.

An overview of the study at Slate. Hat tip to MR.