‘Stickiness’ of water-saving behaviours: what factors influence whether behaviours are maintained or given up?

Angela J. Dean, Sarah Kneebone, Fraser Tull, Nita Lauren, Liam D.G. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Promoting adoption and maintenance of household water-saving behaviours is an important component of responding to water scarcity. While much research identifies what influences adoption of new behaviours, factors that support maintenance of these behaviours have rarely been examined. To address this, we surveyed a representative sample of Australian adults (N = 4872) to explore how diverse behavioural, individual, and contextual characteristics influence behavioural maintenance. Participants were asked to rate how frequently they performed 11 water-saving behaviours. Using generalised linear mixed models, we compared behavioural and individual-level factors that differentiated between behaviours that were maintained (performed ‘often’ or ‘always’) and those discontinued (‘I used to but not anymore’). Factors associated with maintenance measured at the level of behaviour were context stability, stronger community perceptions of uptake (specific social norms), and lower community perceptions of physical effort. Factors associated with maintenance measured at the level of the individual included environmental identity, general water-saving social norms, water literacy, life satisfaction, presence of water-saving devices in home, experience of water restrictions, and living in an area with lower rainfall patterns. These findings indicate that the importance of behavioural, psychosocial, and contextual factors on maintenance of water saving behaviours and highlight diverse opportunities to intervene to strengthen community capacity to maintain these behaviours.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105531
Number of pages9
JournalResources, Conservation and Recycling
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • Demand reduction, Habits, Behavioural maintenance, Persistence, Social norms
  • Pro-environmental behaviors

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