Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Lund University, AgriFood Economics Centre

No 2020:1: Interested, indifferent or active information avoider of climate labels: Cognitive dissonance and ascription of responsibility as motivating factors

Anna Kristina Edenbrandt (), Carl Johan Lagerkvist () and Jonas Nordström ()
Additional contact information
Anna Kristina Edenbrandt: Department of Economics, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Postal: P.O. Box 7012, SE-750 07 Uppsala, Sweden
Carl Johan Lagerkvist: Department of Economics, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Postal: P.O. Box 7012, , SE-750 07 Uppsala, Sweden
Jonas Nordström: AgriFood economics centre, Postal: Box 730 , Scheelevägen 15 D, 220 07 LUND, Sweden

Abstract: Active avoidance of information is gaining attention in the behavioural sciences, and recently, as is its’ relevance from an economic theory perspective. We explore motivations for and policy implications of active avoidance of carbon emissions information. In the first stage of a stated preference survey, respondents indicated whether they wished to access carbon emissions information (info-takers) or not (info-decliners) when selecting a protein source. In the second stage, all respondents were provided with carbon emissions information. The info-takers reduced emissions from their food choices by 32%, while the info-decliners also reduced their emissions (by 12%). This indicates active information avoidance among at least some info-decliners. We explore cognitive dissonance, responsibility feelings and personal norms as motivators for actively avoiding carbon emissions information on meat products, and how these motivators affect a person’s actions when information is imposed upon them. Information increases choice task uncertainty mostly among individuals who experience climate-related cognitive dissonance and/or responsibility feelings. These findings point to the potential that carbon emissions information can have as a measure for transitioning towards the consumption of food products that have a lower carbon footprint. The study also highlights the importance of how this information is provided and presented.

Keywords: Climate label; information avoidance; cognitive dissonance; carbon emission reduction; consumer behavior; strategic avoidance

JEL-codes: D12; D83; Q18; Q54

27 pages, March 12, 2020

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