Communicating Resourcefully: A Natural Field Experiment on Environmental Framing and Cognitive Dissonance in Going Paperless


Abstract

In a large-scale natural field experiment comprising 38,654 customers of a renewable energy supplier in the United Kingdom, we randomize environmental information and dissonance-inducing messaging to promote an active switch from paper to online billing. We find that environmental information and imagery is ineffective in inducing behavior change. Interestingly, the dissonance-inducing messaging weakly improves uptake by 1.2 percentage points among our main sample but backfires among a subsample of individuals with doctoral educations, decreasing uptake by 6.2 percentage points relative to a control group. Contrary to the majority of the literature on gender and environmental behavior, females in our sample are less likely to switch to paperless billing.

Ecological Economics, Volume 154, December 2018, Pages 128-144