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Green, yellow or red lemons? Framed field experiment on houses energy labels perception

Edouard Civel and Nathaly Cruz-Garcia

No 2018-35, EconomiX Working Papers from University of Paris Nanterre, EconomiX

Abstract: Labels are increasingly popular among policy-makers, companies and NGOs to improve consumers awareness, especially about environmental footprints. Yet, the efficiency of these informational tools is mostly looked as their ability to shift behaviors, whereas their first goal is to enable people to discriminate labelled goods. This paper studies how the complex information displayed by houses' Energy Performance Certificates is processed by real economic agents. Through a randomized framed field experiment on 3,000 French subjects, we test the impact of these labels on people's perception of a home energy performance. Results evidence that 24% of subjects did not take heed of the energy label. Unexpectedly, we find out that gender is the most differentiating characteristic in this changing sensitivity to energy performance certificates. We interpret this effect by the Selectivity Hypothesis: energy labels design engages more male subjects.Among sensitive subjects, energy labels' efficiency to transmit information is mixed, as our results indicate a Bayesian reading of houses energy labels. Subjects identify separately each label's grades, and their perception is not systematically biased by individual characteristics, but idiosyncratic features blur their judgment. Moreover, this perception exhibits strong asymmetries. While worsening grades induce decreasing judgments, upgrading label's class do not strongly enhance people's evaluation of energy quality: on the contrary, top level quality label seems to undergo skepticism and intensifies idiosyncratic noise.

Keywords: Information treatment; Experimental economics; Cognitive psychology; Green Value; Energy efficiency. (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D03 D12 D83 L15 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe, nep-ene, nep-env and nep-exp
Date: 2018
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