Impact, Inspire, or Image: On the Trade-Offs Between Efficient and Visible Pro- Environmental Behaviors

40 Pages Posted: 22 Dec 2023 Last revised: 27 Mar 2024

See all articles by Raisa Sherif

Raisa Sherif

Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance

Sven A. Simon

Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance

Date Written: December 21, 2023

Abstract

Today’s environmental challenges prompt many individuals to take personal action. Yet, people may engage in them for different reasons. This paper provides causal evidence for three motivations to choose efficient and visible PEBs: maximizing the environmental benefit, having a green social image, and being a role model for others. In an experiment with contributions to voluntary carbon offsetting, we investigate into a potential crowding-out between visible and efficient behaviors. Our findings reveal three key insights: First, people react to salient efficiency and visibility differences,
and we find evidence for all three motivations. Second, visible PEBs crowd out efficient alternatives, indicating a willingness to prioritize being seen as green over environmental impact. Finally, role model aspirations exert a stronger influence than social image concerns, leading individuals more frequently to choose visible PEBs over efficient ones.

Keywords: Pro-environmental behavior, Efficiency, Visibility, Green preferences, Online experiment

JEL Classification: C90, D90, Q50

Suggested Citation

Sherif, Raisa and Simon, Sven A., Impact, Inspire, or Image: On the Trade-Offs Between Efficient and Visible Pro- Environmental Behaviors (December 21, 2023). Working Paper of the Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance No. 2023-27, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4672097 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4672097

Raisa Sherif

Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance ( email )

Marstallplatz 1
Munich, 80539
Germany

Sven A. Simon (Contact Author)

Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance ( email )

Marstallplatz 1
Munich, 80539
Germany

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