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Biased Estimates of Environmental Impact in the Negative Footprint Illusion: The Nature of Individual Variation
School of Psychology and Computer Science, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, United Kingdom.
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Social Sciences, Technology and Arts, Humans and Technology. School of Psychology and Computer Science, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, United Kingdom.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9494-1287
Department of Building Engineering, Energy Systems, and Sustainability Science, University of Gävle, Gävle, Sweden.
Department of Building Engineering, Energy Systems, and Sustainability Science, University of Gävle, Gävle, Sweden; Department of Computer and Geospatial Sciences, University of Gävle, Gävle, Sweden.
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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 Media S.A., 2022. Vol. 12, article id 648328
Keywords [en]
actively open-minded thinking, environment, individual variation, negative footprint illusion, reasoning
National Category
Applied Psychology
Research subject
Engineering Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-89220DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.648328ISI: 000810876900001PubMedID: 35115976Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85123933225OAI: oai:DiVA.org:ltu-89220DiVA, id: diva2:1637010
Note

Validerad;2022;Nivå 2;2022-02-11 (sofila);

Funder: Centre of Translational Biosciences and Behaviour

Available from: 2022-02-11 Created: 2022-02-11 Last updated: 2022-07-05Bibliographically approved

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Marsh, John Everett

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