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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Interested, indifferent or active information avoiders of carbon labels: Cognitive dissonance and ascription of responsibility as motivating factors

Edenbrandt, Anna Kristina; Lagerkvist, Carl Johan; Nordstrom, Jonas


Active avoidance of information is gaining attention in the behavioural sciences. We explore motivations for active avoidance of carbon emissions information. In the first stage of a stated preference survey, respondents indicated whether they wished to access carbon emissions information (info-takers) or not (info-decliners) when selecting a protein source. In the second stage, all respondents were provided with carbon emissions information. The info-takers reduced emissions from their food choices by 32%, while the info-decliners also reduced their emissions (by 12%). This indicates active information avoidance among at least some info-decliners. We explore how cognitive dissonance, responsibility feelings and personal norms affect a person's actions when information is imposed upon them, and their role as motivators for actively avoiding carbon emissions information on meat products. Individuals who experience climate-related cognitive dissonance and/or responsibility feelings change behaviour more following climate information, and it also increases choice task uncertainty mostly among these. These findings point to the potential of increasing impact from information by simultaneously increasing personal responsibility feelings and activating social norms.


Climate label; Information avoidance; Cognitive dissonance; Carbon emission reduction; Consumer behaviour; Strategic ignorance

Published in

Food Policy
2021, Volume: 101, article number: 102036