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Interested, indifferent or active information avoider of climate labels: Cognitive dissonance and ascription of responsibility as motivating factors

Anna Kristina Edenbrandt (), Carl Johan Lagerkvist () and Jonas Nordström
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Anna Kristina Edenbrandt: Department of Economics, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Postal: P.O. Box 7012, SE-750 07 Uppsala, Sweden,
Carl Johan Lagerkvist: Department of Economics, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Postal: P.O. Box 7012, , SE-750 07 Uppsala, Sweden,

No 2020:1, AgriFood-WP from Lund University, AgriFood Economics Centre

Abstract: Active avoidance of information is gaining attention in the behavioural sciences, and recently, as is its’ relevance from an economic theory perspective. We explore motivations for and policy implications of active avoidance of carbon emissions information. In the first stage of a stated preference survey, respondents indicated whether they wished to access carbon emissions information (info-takers) or not (info-decliners) when selecting a protein source. In the second stage, all respondents were provided with carbon emissions information. The info-takers reduced emissions from their food choices by 32%, while the info-decliners also reduced their emissions (by 12%). This indicates active information avoidance among at least some info-decliners. We explore cognitive dissonance, responsibility feelings and personal norms as motivators for actively avoiding carbon emissions information on meat products, and how these motivators affect a person’s actions when information is imposed upon them. Information increases choice task uncertainty mostly among individuals who experience climate-related cognitive dissonance and/or responsibility feelings. These findings point to the potential that carbon emissions information can have as a measure for transitioning towards the consumption of food products that have a lower carbon footprint. The study also highlights the importance of how this information is provided and presented.

Keywords: Climate label; information avoidance; cognitive dissonance; carbon emission reduction; consumer behavior; strategic avoidance (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D12 D83 Q18 Q54 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 27 pages
Date: 2020-03-12
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-agr, nep-cbe, nep-ene and nep-env
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