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Greenwashing your personality


  • Fabienne Cantner

    (Technical University of Munich (TUMCS))

  • Christoph Drobner

    (Technical University of Munich (TUMCS))

  • Sebastian J. Goerg

    (Technical University of Munich (TUMCS, SOM))


Behaving more sustainable has been shown to signal cooperativeness in social dilemmas. We investigate whether people exploit this apparent signaling value by in ating their intention to behave sustainably without changing their actual behavior. We explore this question in an online experiment in which participants self-report the importance of sustainability in their daily lives before engaging in a prisoner's dilemma game. Using a between-subjects design, we manipulate whether participants have the opportunity to adjust their self-reported sustainability scores after receiving instructions for the game. The results show that almost 30% of participants increase their sustainability scores in anticipation of higher transfers from their matched partners. However, this greenwashing strategy proves to be unsuccessful, as higher sustainability scores do not lead to higher transfers.

Suggested Citation

  • Fabienne Cantner & Christoph Drobner & Sebastian J. Goerg, 2023. "Greenwashing your personality," Munich Papers in Political Economy 29, Munich School of Politics and Public Policy and the School of Management at the Technical University of Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:aiw:wpaper:29

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    More about this item


    Greenwashing; Social Dilemma; Signaling; Sustainability;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • Q50 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - General

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