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Averaging bias in environmental impact estimates: Evidence from the negative footprint illusion
University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building, Energy and Environmental Engineering, Environmental psychology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8442-8324
University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Industrial Development, IT and Land Management, Decision, Risk and Policy Analysis.
University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building, Energy and Environmental Engineering, Environmental psychology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7584-2275
2018 (English)In: Journal of Environmental Psychology, ISSN 0272-4944, E-ISSN 1522-9610, Vol. 55, p. 48-52Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this paper we argue that unsustainable behaviors often stem from a common averaging bias when people estimate the environmental impact of a set of environmentally friendly and less friendly objects or actions. In Experiment 1, we show that people believe that the total carbon footprint of a category of items (a community of buildings in this case) is lower, rather than higher, when environmentally friendly (“green” buildings) items are added to the category, a negative footprint illusion. Experiment 2 showed  that the carbon footprint estimate assigned to a category with a mix of environmentally friendly and less friendly objects (“green” and conventional  buildings) is the average of its subsets (the “green” buildings and the  conventional buildings, respectively), an averaging bias. A similar averaging  process may underpin estimates of the environmental impact of people's own actions, explaining why people believe that environmentally friendly actions can compensate for less friendly actions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. Vol. 55, p. 48-52
Keywords [en]
“Green” buildings, Averaging bias Carbon footprint, The negative footprint illusion
National Category
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-25882DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvp.2017.12.005ISI: 000428489200006Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85038968856OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hig-25882DiVA, id: diva2:1168384
Available from: 2017-12-20 Created: 2017-12-20 Last updated: 2018-04-16Bibliographically approved

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Holmgren, MattiasAndersson, HannaSörqvist, Patrik

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