Using water use data to optimize household survey perception findings

Authors: Melissa Haeffner*, Portland State University, Douglas Jackson-Smith, Ohio State University
Topics: Water Resources and Hydrology, Urban and Regional Planning, Arid Regions
Keywords: water, water use data, survey, social desirability bias
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Studio 2, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper considers the everyday life of residential water use - handwashing, toilet flushing, lawn watering, etc. Currently, water use behavior patterns are often collected through household survey proxy measures. However, survey measures can be poor representations of human behavior and may reflect cognitive biases, including social desirability bias. To address this methodological challenge, we propose matching household survey perception data to actual use data derived from monthly utility bills acquired through a stakeholder engagement process to explicitly consider the relationship between self-perception and real water use. The case study of over 2,000 urban Utah households examines the role of social cues, sociodemographic, and geographic influences on the perceptions of self-reported water use behaviors. In doing so, we evaluate the effectiveness of using survey proxies for household water use assessment and seek a better understanding of residential water use to inform municipal water conservation opportunities and sustainable urban development.

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