Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

On Strategic Ignorance of Environmental Harm and Social Norms

Contents:

Author Info

  • Thunström, Linda

    ()
    (Department of Economics and Finance, University of Wyoming)

  • van 't Veld, Klaas

    ()
    (Department of Economics and Finance, University of Wyoming)

  • Shogren, Jason F.

    ()
    (Department of Economics and Finance, University of Wyoming)

  • Nordström, Jonas

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Lund University)

Abstract

Are people strategically ignorant of the negative externalities their activities cause the environment? Herein we examine if people avoid costless information on those externalities and use ignorance as an excuse to reduce pro-environmental behavior. We develop a theoretical framework in which people feel guilt from causing harm to the environment (e.g., emitting carbon dioxide) and from deviating from the social norm for pro-environmental behavior (e.g., offsetting carbon emissions). Our model predicts that people may benefit from avoiding information on their harm to the environment, and that they use ignorance as an excuse to engage in less pro-environmental behavior. It also predicts that the cost of ignorance increases if people can learn about the social norm from the information. We test the model predictions empirically with an experiment that involves an imaginary long- distance flight and an option to buy offsets for the flight’s carbon footprint. More than half (53 percent) of the subjects choose to ignore information on the carbon footprint alone before deciding their offset purchase, but ignorance significantly decreases (to 29 percent) when the information additionally reveals the social norm, namely the share of air travelers who buy carbon offsets. We find evidence that some people use ignorance as an excuse to reduce pro-environmental behavior— ignorance significantly decreases the probability of buying carbon offsets.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://project.nek.lu.se/publications/workpap/papers/WP13_22.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Lund University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2013:22.

as in new window
Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: 26 Jun 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:lunewp:2013_022

Contact details of provider:
Postal: Department of Economics, School of Economics and Management, Lund University, Box 7082, S-220 07 Lund,Sweden
Phone: +46 +46 222 0000
Fax: +46 +46 2224613
Web page: http://www.nek.lu.se/en
More information through EDIRC

Related research

Keywords: Behavioral; Decision Making; Externality; Ignorance; Social norms;

Find related papers by JEL classification:

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Thunstrom, Linda & Nordstrom, Jonas & Shogren, Jason F. & Ehmke, Mariah D., 2012. "Strategic Self-Ignorance," 2012 Annual Meeting, August 12-14, 2012, Seattle, Washington 123949, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    • Thunström, Linda & Nordström, Jonas & Shogren, Jason F. & Ehmke, Mariah & van 't Veld, Klaas, 2013. "Strategic Self-Ignorance," Working Papers 2013:17, Lund University, Department of Economics.
  2. Charness, Gary & Gneezy, Uri, 2008. "What's in a name? Anonymity and social distance in dictator and ultimatum games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 29-35, October.
  3. Tara Larson & C. Monica Capra, 2009. "Exploiting moral wiggle room: Illusory preference for fairness? A comment," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 4(6), pages 467-474, October.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hhs:lunewp:2013_022. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (David Edgerton).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.