New publication: Axel Burger, Johannes Schuler, and Elisabeth Eberling: Guilty pleasures: Moral licensing in climate-related behavior.

Categories: GESIS-News

Burger, Axel, Johannes Schuler, and Elisabeth Eberling (2022). Guilty pleasures: Moral licensing in climate-related behavior. Global Environmental Change 72.

Can past climate-friendly behaviors make people feel less guilty about continuing problematic behaviors and less motivated to change those behaviors? The authors explored this question in experiments in which question order effects in surveys were used as an experimental treatment so that portions of respondents were reminded of past climate-friendly behaviors before being asked about climate-harming behaviors. Specifically, it was shown that people who had not taken private airplane trips in the past few years felt less guilty about their meat consumption when reminded of the former fact compared to when they were not reminded. Similarly, people who had invested in energy-efficient building renovation were less motivated to reduce their air travel or to compensate for the resulting emissions when they were reminded of the building renovation than when this was not the case.