Nudging low-carbon consumption through advertising and social norms

Juana Castro-Santa*, Stefan Drews, Jeroen van den Bergh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


Widespread advertising of high-carbon goods challenges a shift to low-carbon consumption which is needed to limit climate change. We test the pure and combined effects of advertising and communicating a social norm on low- and high-carbon consumption. This involved presenting to 2728 US citizens an imitation Facebook homepage containing green and non-green advertising as well as weak and strong social norms to nudge low-carbon consumption. In isolation, both green advertising and social norms were effective in promoting low-carbon choices. But when combined, advertising dominated choice and counteracted the positive effects of the social norm. We show that this result is due to advertising affecting more decision channels than the social norm. It suggests that low-carbon norms have a limited effectiveness in changing consumer preferences in a world dominated by advertising.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101956
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023


  • Advertising
  • Consumption
  • Emissions reduction
  • Experiment
  • Social norms


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