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Can sustainable consumption be learned? A model of cultural evolution

  • Buenstorf, Guido
  • Cordes, Christian

This paper shows how sustainable consumption patterns can spread within a population via processes of social learning even though a strong individual learning bias may favor environmentally harmful products. We present a model depicting how the biased transmission of different behaviors via individual and social learning influences agents' consumption behavior. The underlying learning biases can be traced back to evolved cognitive dispositions. Challenging the vision of a permanent transition toward sustainability, we argue that "green" consumption patterns are not self-reinforcing and cannot be "locked in" permanently.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Ecological Economics.

Volume (Year): 67 (2008)
Issue (Month): 4 (November)
Pages: 646-657

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:67:y:2008:i:4:p:646-657
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  1. Brennan, Timothy J., 2006. ""Green" preferences as regulatory policy instrument," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 144-154, January.
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  12. C. Cordes, 2003. "Long-term Tendencies in Technological Creativity - A Preference-based Approach," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2003-02, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
  13. Christian Cordes, 2004. "The Human Adaptation for Culture and its Behavioral Implications," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 6(2), pages 143-163, May.
  14. Kenneth Arrow & Partha Dasgupta & Lawrence Goulder & Gretchen Daily & Paul Ehrlich & Geoffrey Heal & Simon Levin & Karl-Göran Mäler & Stephen Schneider & David Starrett & Brian Walker, 2004. "Are We Consuming Too Much?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(3), pages 147-172, Summer.
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  17. Jackson, Tim, 2002. "Evolutionary psychology in ecological economics: consilience, consumption and contentment," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 289-303, May.
  18. van den Bergh, Jeroen C. J. M. & Ferrer-i-Carbonell, Ada & Munda, Giuseppe, 2000. "Alternative models of individual behaviour and implications for environmental policy," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 43-61, January.
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  21. repec:ucp:bkecon:9780226116136 is not listed on IDEAS
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