Many behavioral nudges harness social or self-image concerns to promote environmental-friendly choices. Their effectiveness may be reduced if people maintain their desired image through information avoidance and belief manipulation which justify selfish actions. To test the conditions that induce information avoidance and belief manipulation, we conducted an online experiment on air conditioning (AC) usage involving over 2,000 US households. Combining requests of effortful behavioral changes, in terms of increases in AC temperature, with greater salience of a social norm of energy conservation discourages people’s acquisition of information on the impacts of AC and induces them to report beliefs that AC usage has low environmental impacts. Adding a costly behavioral change request to social norm salience fails to induce changes in AC thermostat settings. These findings are reinforced by field evidence from an energy conservation nudge: households avoid social information on their energy usage when high temperatures make AC use necessary. Our results highlight how context may trigger strategic information acquisition and motivated beliefs, potentially limiting the effectiveness of social norm nudges. The study emphasizes the need to tailor environmental policies to the context and to broaden their scope to deal with all possible behavioral responses.

Strategic information avoidance, belief manipulation and the effectiveness of green nudges / G. D’Adda, Y. Gao, R. Golman, M. Tavoni. - In: ECOLOGICAL ECONOMICS. - ISSN 0921-8009. - 222:(2024 May), pp. 108191.1-108191.14. [Epub ahead of print] [10.1016/j.ecolecon.2024.108191]

Strategic information avoidance, belief manipulation and the effectiveness of green nudges

G. D’Adda
Primo
;
2024

Abstract

Many behavioral nudges harness social or self-image concerns to promote environmental-friendly choices. Their effectiveness may be reduced if people maintain their desired image through information avoidance and belief manipulation which justify selfish actions. To test the conditions that induce information avoidance and belief manipulation, we conducted an online experiment on air conditioning (AC) usage involving over 2,000 US households. Combining requests of effortful behavioral changes, in terms of increases in AC temperature, with greater salience of a social norm of energy conservation discourages people’s acquisition of information on the impacts of AC and induces them to report beliefs that AC usage has low environmental impacts. Adding a costly behavioral change request to social norm salience fails to induce changes in AC thermostat settings. These findings are reinforced by field evidence from an energy conservation nudge: households avoid social information on their energy usage when high temperatures make AC use necessary. Our results highlight how context may trigger strategic information acquisition and motivated beliefs, potentially limiting the effectiveness of social norm nudges. The study emphasizes the need to tailor environmental policies to the context and to broaden their scope to deal with all possible behavioral responses.
Environmental behavior; Moral wiggle room; Motivated belief; Nudges; Social norm salience
Settore SECS-P/01 - Economia Politica
mag-2024
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2434/1050771
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