FEEM working papers "Note di lavoro" series
2018 .007

It’s So Hot in Here: Information Avoidance, Moral Wiggle Room, and High Air Conditioning Usage


Authors: Giovanna d’Adda , Yu Gao , Russell Golman, Massimo Tavoni
Series: Climate and Sustainable Innovation
Editor: Massimo Tavoni
Keywords: Information Avoidance, Energy Efficiency, Moral Wiggle Room
JEL n.: D4, Q4

Abstract

Environmental policies based on information provision are widespread, but have often proven ineffective. One possible explanation for information’s low effectiveness is that people actively avoid it. We conduct an online field experiment on air conditioning usage to test the theory of moral wiggle room, according to which people avoid information that would compel them to act morally, against the standard theory of information acquisition, and identify conditions under which each theory applies. In the experiment, we observe how exogenously imposing a feeling of moral obligation to reduce air conditioning usage and exploiting natural variation in the cost of doing so, given by outside temperature, influences subjects’ avoidance of information about their energy use impacts on the environment. Moral obligation increases information avoidance when it is hot outside, consistent with the moral wiggle room theory, but decreases it when outside temperature is low. Avoiding information positively correlates with air conditioning usage. These findings provide guidance about tailoring the use of nudges and informational tools to the decision environment.

***

Suggested citation: d'Adda, G., Y. Gao, R. Golman, M. Tavoni, (2018), 'It’s So Hot in Here: Information Avoidance, Moral Wiggle Room, and High Air Conditioning Usage', Nota di Lavoro 7.2018, Milano, Italy: Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei

Download file
Download PDF file

FEEM Update

Subscribe to stay connected.

Your personal data will be processed by Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei. – data Controller – with the aim of emailing the FEEM newsletter. The use of Your email address is necessary for the implementation of the newsletter service. You are invited to read the Privacy Policy in order to obtain additional information about the protection of Your rights.

This Website uses technical cookies and cookie analytics, as well as “third party” profiling cookies.
If you close this banner or you decide to continue navigating on this Website, you express consent to the use of cookies. If you need additional information or you wish to express selective choices on the use of cookies, please refer to the   Cookie PolicyI agree