Over the past several years, a Yale-led investigation has illustrated the key role of social networks — particularly of trusted community leaders — in promoting the adoption of solar technologies.
A new study confirms that when it comes to convincing consumers to install solar panels, one factor stands out above all others: whether those community leaders practice what they preach.
Writing in the journal Nature
, an interdisciplinary team from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, including Prof. Kenneth Gillingham
, the Yale Department of Psychology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, reports that community leaders who have actually installed solar systems on their own homes were able to recruit 62.8 percent more residents to install solar than leaders who did not.
That trend, they found, was true regardless of whether they’d adopted solar for environmental reasons or for economic reasons.
The findings, which build upon Gillingham’s long-term research on solar adoption in Connecticut, offer empirical evidence of a long-held theory about the power of so-called “credibility-enhancing displays,” or CREDs, whereby one’s actions provide more information about one’s beliefs than their words alone.