Talking green and acting green are two different things: An experimental investigation of the relationship between implicit and explicit attitudes and low carbon consumer choice.

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Abstract

One major assumption in the climate change debate is that because respondents report positive attitudes to the environment and to low carbon lifestyles that they will subsequently engage in environmentally friendly/low carbon behaviours given the right guidance or information. Many governmental agencies have based their climate change strategy on this basic assumption, despite some anxiety about the value-action gap in psychology more generally. Here we test this assumption. We investigated the relationship between explicit and implicit attitudes to carbon footprint, and both self-reports of environmental behaviour and low carbon behavioural choices. We found that self-reported attitudes to carbon footprint were significantly associated only with self-reported environmental and self-reported low-carbon behaviours. They were not significantly associated with the choice of low carbon alternatives in a simulated shopping task. Given that the vast majority of studies on attitudes and behaviour in the environmental domain use self-report measures of behaviour, this may mean that we are generating research findings that may be making policy makers overly complacent about our readiness for actual behaviour change. Implicit attitudes were not significantly associated with either measure in terms of group comparisons, but those with a strong positive implicit attitude towards low carbon did choose more low carbon items, but only under time pressure. The opposite trend was found for explicit attitudes – this increased only when participants were not under time pressure. These results suggest that Kahneman’s hypothesis about contrasting systems of human cognition might be highly relevant to the domain of climate change and behavioural adaptation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-125
JournalSemiotica
Issue number227
Early online date25 Jan 2019
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Jan 2019

Fingerprint

climate change
environmental behavior
Carbon
Consumer Choice
cognition
psychology
anxiety
trend
Values
Group
Climate Change
Implicit Attitudes
time
Time Pressure
Self-report

Keywords

  • implicit attitudes
  • explicit attitudes
  • low carbon consumer choice
  • carbon footprint
  • brand

Cite this

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title = "Talking green and acting green are two different things: An experimental investigation of the relationship between implicit and explicit attitudes and low carbon consumer choice.",
abstract = "One major assumption in the climate change debate is that because respondents report positive attitudes to the environment and to low carbon lifestyles that they will subsequently engage in environmentally friendly/low carbon behaviours given the right guidance or information. Many governmental agencies have based their climate change strategy on this basic assumption, despite some anxiety about the value-action gap in psychology more generally. Here we test this assumption. We investigated the relationship between explicit and implicit attitudes to carbon footprint, and both self-reports of environmental behaviour and low carbon behavioural choices. We found that self-reported attitudes to carbon footprint were significantly associated only with self-reported environmental and self-reported low-carbon behaviours. They were not significantly associated with the choice of low carbon alternatives in a simulated shopping task. Given that the vast majority of studies on attitudes and behaviour in the environmental domain use self-report measures of behaviour, this may mean that we are generating research findings that may be making policy makers overly complacent about our readiness for actual behaviour change. Implicit attitudes were not significantly associated with either measure in terms of group comparisons, but those with a strong positive implicit attitude towards low carbon did choose more low carbon items, but only under time pressure. The opposite trend was found for explicit attitudes – this increased only when participants were not under time pressure. These results suggest that Kahneman’s hypothesis about contrasting systems of human cognition might be highly relevant to the domain of climate change and behavioural adaptation.",
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