Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date

1-2015

JEL Codes

Q5, Z1

Working Paper Number

2015-01

Abstract

Using a contingent choice survey of US citizens, we investigate the influence of environmental art on individual willingness to purchase voluntary carbon offsets. In a split-sample experiment, we compare the stated preferences of survey respondents in two different treatment groups to the preferences of a control group. One treatment group is shown photographs that illustrate the impacts of climate change; the other is shown animated images that illustrate wind speeds and patterns for extreme weather events. While individuals seeing the photographs show a higher willingness to purchase voluntary offset than the control group, respondents seeing the animated images seem less willing to buy offsets. This result remains stable when accounting for preference heterogeneity related to prior knowledge about climate change issues. We hypothesize that the differential impacts of the two kinds of artistic images are due to a combination of factors influencing individual choices: emotional affect, cognitive interest, and preferences for the prevention of specific climate change impacts as well as, more generally, internalized and social norms for the mitigation of climate change.

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