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Biased estimates of environmental impact: The nature of individual variation.

Threadgold, Emma and Marsh, John Everett and Holmgren, Mattias and Andersson, Hanna and Nelson, Megan and Ball, Linden Biased estimates of environmental impact: The nature of individual variation. [DataSet] (Submitted)


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.

Research / Data Type: Collection - various types
Keywords: Negative Footprint Illusion, Individual Differences, Reasoning, Environmental Concern
DOI: 10.17030/uclan.data.00000281
Research Centres: Brain and Behaviour
Depositing User: Emma Threadgold
Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2021 10:08
Revision: 14
URI: https://uclandata.uclan.ac.uk/id/eprint/322

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