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

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  • Gosnell, Greer K.

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Gosnell, Greer K., 2018. "Communicating Resourcefully: A Natural Field Experiment on Environmental Framing and Cognitive Dissonance in Going Paperless," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 154(C), pages 128-144.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:154:y:2018:i:c:p:128-144
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2018.07.020
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Natural field experiment; Message framing; Cognitive dissonance; Information provision; Imagery; Resource use; Paperless billing;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • L21 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Business Objectives of the Firm
    • Q29 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Other

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