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Pro-environmental behavior and rational consumer choice: Evidence from surveys of life satisfaction

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  • Welsch, Heinz
  • Kühling, Jan

Abstract

This paper theoretically and empirically investigates the hypothesis of decision error in environmental-friendly consumption. Existing evidence suggests that people make systematic mistakes in affective forecasting that lead to suboptimal decisions. The paper hypothesizes that such errors are important in the context of the private provision of environmental goods and shows in a simple theoretical model that decision errors imply a non-zero net marginal utility at the chosen level of environmental-friendly consumption. Using life satisfaction as a proxy for experienced utility, the empirical analysis finds a positive and significant association between life satisfaction and pro-environmental behavior, which is consistent with environmental-friendly consumption being less than individually optimal. The results are robust to controlling not only for socio-demographic characteristics but also for differences in environment-related personal attitudes.

Suggested Citation

  • Welsch, Heinz & Kühling, Jan, 2010. "Pro-environmental behavior and rational consumer choice: Evidence from surveys of life satisfaction," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 405-420, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:31:y:2010:i:3:p:405-420
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Affective Forecasting and Optimal Environmental Behaviour
      by Liam Delaney in Geary Behaviour Centre on 2010-12-30 21:11:00

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:old:wpaper:322 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Heinz Welsch & Jan Kuehling, 2017. "How Green Self Image Affects Subjective Well-Being: Pro-Environmental Values as a Social Norm," Working Papers V-404-17, University of Oldenburg, Department of Economics, revised Oct 2017.
    3. repec:eee:jeborg:v:137:y:2017:i:c:p:304-323 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:eee:ecolec:v:143:y:2018:i:c:p:130-140 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Daniel Osberghaus & Jan Kühling, 2016. "Direct and indirect effects of weather experiences on life satisfaction – which role for climate change expectations?," Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 59(12), pages 2198-2230, December.
    6. repec:eee:ecolec:v:149:y:2018:i:c:p:105-119 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Welsch, Heinz & Kühling, Jan, 2011. "Are pro-environmental consumption choices utility-maximizing? Evidence from subjective well-being data," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 75-87.
    8. repec:spr:endesu:v:19:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10668-016-9771-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Welsch, Heinz & Ferreira, Susana, 2014. "Environment, Well-Being, and Experienced Preference," International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics, now publishers, vol. 7(3-4), pages 205-239, December.
    10. repec:zbw:hohpro:322 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Madalina ARITON (BALAU), 2012. "The Influence of Motivational Factors on the Romanian Passenger Car Consumer Behavior after the Start of the Current Economic Crisis – an Explorative Study," EuroEconomica, Danubius University of Galati, issue 1(31), pages 25-31, February.
    12. Constantin Sasu & Madalina V. Ariton (Balau), 2011. "Factors Influencing Passenger Car Consumer Behavior and their Use in the Environmental Public Policy," EuroEconomica, Danubius University of Galati, issue 27, pages 20-26, February.
    13. Grant E. Donnelly & Cait Lamberton & Rebecca Walker Reczek & Michael I. Norton, 2017. "Social Recycling Transforms Unwanted Goods into Happiness," Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(1), pages 48-63.
    14. Chankrajang, Thanyaporn & Muttarak, Raya, 2017. "Green Returns to Education: Does Schooling Contribute to Pro-Environmental Behaviours? Evidence from Thailand," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 434-448.
    15. Blankenberg, Ann-Kathrin & Alhusen, Harm, 2018. "On the determinants of pro-environmental behavior: A guide for further investigations," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 350, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    16. Heinz Welsch & Jan Kühling, 2010. "Is Pro-Environmental Consumption Utility-Maximizing? Evidence from Subjective Well-Being Data," Working Papers V-322-10, University of Oldenburg, Department of Economics, revised Apr 2010.

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