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Biased Estimates of Environmental Impact in the Negative Footprint Illusion: The Nature of Individual Variation
University of Central Lancashire, Preston, United Kingdom.
University of Central Lancashire, Preston, United Kingdom; Luleå University of Technology.
University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building Engineering, Energy Systems and Sustainability Science, Environmental Science.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8442-8324
University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Computer and Geospatial Sciences, Decision, Risk and Policy Analysis.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6151-9664
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2022 (English)In: Frontiers in Psychology, E-ISSN 1664-1078, Vol. 12, article id 648328Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

People consistently act in ways that harm the environment, even when believing their actions are environmentally friendly. A case in point is a biased judgment termed the negative footprint illusion, which arises when people believe that the addition of “eco-friendly” items (e.g., environmentally certified houses) to conventional items (e.g., standard houses), reduces the total carbon footprint of the whole item-set, whereas the carbon footprint is, in fact, increased because eco-friendly items still contribute to the overall carbon footprint. Previous research suggests this illusion is the manifestation of an “averaging-bias.” We present two studies that explore whether people’s susceptibility to the negative footprint illusion is associated with individual differences in: (i) environment-specific reasoning dispositions measured in terms of compensatory green beliefs and environmental concerns; or (ii) general analytic reasoning dispositions measured in terms of actively open-minded thinking, avoidance of impulsivity and reflective reasoning (indexed using the Cognitive Reflection Test; CRT). A negative footprint illusion was demonstrated when participants rated the carbon footprint of conventional buildings combined with eco-friendly buildings (Study 1 and 2) and conventional cars combined with eco-friendly cars (Study 2). However, the illusion was not identified in participants’ ratings of the carbon footprint of apples (Study 1 and 2). In Studies 1 and 2, environment-specific dispositions were found to be unrelated to the negative footprint illusion. Regarding reflective thinking dispositions, reduced susceptibility to the negative footprint illusion was only associated with actively open-minded thinking measured on a 7-item scale (Study 1) and 17-item scale (Study 2). Our findings provide partial support for the existence of a negative footprint illusion and reveal a role of individual variation in reflective reasoning dispositions in accounting for a limited element of differential susceptibility to this illusion.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Frontiers , 2022. Vol. 12, article id 648328
Keywords [en]
negative footprint illusion, individual variation, reasoning, environment, actively open-minded thinking
National Category
Psychology Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-37926DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.648328ISI: 000810876900001PubMedID: 35115976Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85123933225OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hig-37926DiVA, id: diva2:1636812
Available from: 2022-02-10 Created: 2022-02-10 Last updated: 2022-09-09Bibliographically approved

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Holmgren, MattiasAndersson, Hanna

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