Preferences for change: Do individuals prefer voluntary actions, soft regulations, or hard regulations to decrease fossil fuel consumption?

Shahzeen Z. Attari, Mary Schoen, Cliff I. Davidson, Michael L. DeKay, Wändi Bruine de Bruin, Robyn Dawes, Mitchell J. Small

Research output: Contribution to journalShort survey

53 Scopus citations

Abstract

Pittsburgh residents (n = 209) reported their preferences for voluntary actions, soft regulations, and hard regulations to (a) limit the number of SUVs and trucks and (b) increase green energy use for household energy consumption. These two goals were presented in one of two motivating frames, as addressing either environmental or national security issues. For the goal of limiting SUVs and trucks, results indicated that participants favored voluntary actions over hard regulations, and soft regulations over voluntary actions. For the goal of increasing green energy, results indicated that participants preferred both voluntary actions and soft regulations over hard regulations, but had no significant preference between voluntary actions and soft regulations. How the problems were framed did not significantly affect participants' willingness to accept voluntary actions or regulations. Participants' environmental attitudes (as assessed using the New Ecological Paradigm scale) had a strong positive relationship with support for regulatory strategies intended to change the behaviors in question. Women were more likely to support voluntary actions than men. The loss of personal freedom was frequently mentioned as a reason for saying no to hard regulations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1701-1710
Number of pages10
JournalEcological Economics
Volume68
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 15 2009
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Energy conservation
  • Environmental behavior
  • Personal freedom
  • Preferences for change
  • Regulations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Economics and Econometrics

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