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Challenges of researching showering routines – from the individual to the socio-material

Simpson, K; Staddon, C; Spotswood, F; Ward, Sarah


K Simpson

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Chad Staddon
Professor/Associate Head of Department: Research and Scholarship

F Spotswood

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Dr Sarah Ward
Associate Professor in Community Resilience (within CFCR)


Water supplies are under threat from climate change, population growth and modern lifestyles. Excessive demand wastes money, energy and carbon. Evidence indicates that young adults are particularly high water-users. This population segment is at a transitional life-stage, leaving home to become independent adults. It is a time when new life-long habits can be shaped, but also when there is pressure to conform to high standards of cleanliness and body-image required to fit with new social groups and form intimate relationships with peers. Showering is the largest and growing component of domestic water consumption. This paper sets out the study design, presents early findings and reflects on the challenges faced by a doctoral researcher in working with different types and scales of data to explore how theories of behavioural and social change can help to inform a real-world programmes of water efficiency measures underpinned by rigorous research. It focuses on the showering patterns of first year students living in campus accommodation at the University of the West of England, Bristol. The Scottish Government Individual-Social-Material model, underpinned by cross-disciplinary behaviour and social change theories, was applied to evaluate typical showering demand reduction measures and co-design alternative or novel ideas. A mixed-methods approach explored the inherent variability of personal showering routines and the relationship with conventional household metrics of water consumption by combining household meter, logged water-fixture micro-component, personal-use survey, user diary and stakeholder focus group data.


Simpson, K., Staddon, C., Spotswood, F., & Ward, S. (2018, September). Challenges of researching showering routines – from the individual to the socio-material. Paper presented at 5th Annual Water Efficiency Conference

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name 5th Annual Water Efficiency Conference
Start Date Sep 5, 2018
End Date Sep 7, 2018
Acceptance Date Sep 5, 2018
Publication Date Sep 7, 2018
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Pages 243-252
Keywords behaviour change, Individual-Social-Technical toolkit, mixed-methods, showering, water efficiency, young adults
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Publisher URL
Additional Information Title of Conference or Conference Proceedings : 5th Annual Water Efficiency Network Conference