How Does Carbon Footprint Information Affect Consumer Choice? A Field Experiment

Forthcoming in Journal of Accounting Research

TRR 266 Accounting for Transparency Working Paper Series No. 127

48 Pages Posted: 28 Jul 2023 Last revised: 14 Aug 2023

See all articles by Bianca Beyer

Bianca Beyer

Aalto University School of Business

Rico Chaskel

Humboldt University of Berlin - Faculty of Economics and Business Administration; TRR 266 Accounting for Transparency

Simone Euler

Humboldt University of Berlin - School of Business and Economics; TRR 266 Accounting for Transparency

Joachim Gassen

Humboldt University of Berlin - School of Business and Economics; TRR 266 Accounting for Transparency

Ann-Kristin Großkopf

LMU Munich School of Management; TRR 266 Accounting for Transparency

Thorsten Sellhorn

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) Munich; TRR 266 Accounting for Transparency

Date Written: July 27, 2023

Abstract

This paper reports the results of a field experiment investigating how attributes of carbon footprint information affect consumer choice in a large dining facility. Our hypotheses and research methods were pre-registered via the Journal of Accounting Research’s registration-based editorial process. Manipulating the measurement units and visualizations of carbon footprint information on food labels, we quantify effects on consumers’ food choices. Treated consumers choose less carbon-intensive dishes, reducing their food-related carbon footprint by up to 9.2 %, depending on the treatment. Effects are strongest for carbon footprint information expressed in monetary units (‘environmental costs’) and color-coded in the familiar traffic-light scheme. A post-experimental survey shows that these effects obtain although respondents, on average, self-report low concern for the environmental footprint of their meal choices. Our study contributes to the accounting literature by using an information processing framework to shed light on the information usage and decision-making processes of an increasingly important user group of accounting information: consumers.

Keywords: information processing, carbon footprint, consumers, decision making, field experiment

JEL Classification: D83, M14, M41, Q56

Suggested Citation

Beyer, Bianca and Chaskel, Rico and Euler, Simone and Gassen, Joachim and Großkopf, Ann-Kristin and Sellhorn, Thorsten, How Does Carbon Footprint Information Affect Consumer Choice? A Field Experiment (July 27, 2023). Forthcoming in Journal of Accounting Research, TRR 266 Accounting for Transparency Working Paper Series No. 127, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4523982 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4523982

Bianca Beyer

Aalto University School of Business ( email )

Aalto University School of Business
PO Box 21210
Aalto, FI-00076
Finland

Rico Chaskel

Humboldt University of Berlin - Faculty of Economics and Business Administration ( email )

Berlin
Germany

TRR 266 Accounting for Transparency ( email )

Warburger Straße 100
Paderborn, 33098
Germany

Simone Euler

Humboldt University of Berlin - School of Business and Economics ( email )

Spandauer Str. 1
Berlin, D-10099
Germany

TRR 266 Accounting for Transparency ( email )

Warburger Straße 100
Paderborn, 33098
Germany

Joachim Gassen

Humboldt University of Berlin - School of Business and Economics ( email )

Spandauer Str. 1
Berlin, D-10099
Germany
+49 30 2093 5764 (Phone)
+49 30 2093 5670 (Fax)

TRR 266 Accounting for Transparency

Warburger Straße 100
Paderborn, 33098
Germany

Ann-Kristin Großkopf (Contact Author)

LMU Munich School of Management ( email )

Institute for Accounting and Control, LMU Munich
Ludwigstr. 28 RG
Munich, 80539
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/view/akgrosskopf

TRR 266 Accounting for Transparency ( email )

Warburger Straße 100
Paderborn, 33098
Germany

Thorsten Sellhorn

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) Munich ( email )

Ludwigstr. 28 RG IV
Munich, Bavaria 80539
Germany
+49(0)89-21806264 (Phone)
+49(0)89-21806327 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.rwp.bwl.uni-muenchen.de/personen/professoren/sellhorn/index.html

TRR 266 Accounting for Transparency ( email )

Warburger Straße 100
Paderborn, 33098
Germany

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