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Communicating Resourcefully: A Natural Field Experiment on Environmental Framing and Cognitive Dissonance in Going Paperless

Greer K. Gosnell

Ecological Economics, 2018, vol. 154, issue C, 128-144

Abstract: In a large-scale natural field experiment comprising 38,654 customers of a renewable energy supplier in the United Kingdom, we randomize environmental information and dissonance-inducing messaging to promote an active switch from paper to online billing. We find that environmental information and imagery is ineffective in inducing behavior change. Interestingly, the dissonance-inducing messaging weakly improves uptake by 1.2 percentage points among our main sample but backfires among a subsample of individuals with doctoral educations, decreasing uptake by 6.2 percentage points relative to a control group. Contrary to the majority of the literature on gender and environmental behavior, females in our sample are less likely to switch to paperless billing.

Keywords: Natural field experiment; Message framing; Cognitive dissonance; Information provision; Imagery; Resource use; Paperless billing (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D12 D83 L21 Q29 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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