Special Issue "Behavioral Economics and Sustainable Public Policies"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 June 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Ana Rita Farias
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Católica-Lisbon School of Business and Economics, Universidade Católica Portuguesa, 1649-023 Lisboa, Portugal
Interests: social psychology; behavioral economics
Dr. Joana Reis
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
CICPSI-Research Center for Psychological Science, Faculdade de Psicologia da, Universidade de Lisboa, 1649-004 Lisboa, Portugal
Interests: social and environmental psychology; behavioral economics

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The world is facing major issues to ensure the future of our environment, and humans are as much part of the problem as they need to be part of the solutions. Acknowledging people as part of the ecosystem, public policies need to be grounded on empirical evidence about how people actually behave in order to be able to present more sustainable solutions and interventions. Human environments are not simple predictable rational machines, but rather systems usually characterized by high levels of uncertainty and change. In fact, behavioral economics, as an area of research that tests the classic rational assumption by identifying consistent behavioral patterns, has continuously shown how humans systematically violate these classical assumptions. Understandably, research in behavioral economics and sustainable public policies has gained more and more attention over the last few years, identifying concrete implications to policy design. In this Special Issue, we encourage authors to submit reviews, meta-analyses, conceptual models, and empirical studies aiming to present recent advances in this emerging field, namely by identifying how responses and attitudes toward specific environmental policies differ from those predicted by standard theory.

Dr. Ana Rita Farias
Dr. Joana Reis
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • environment
  • behavioral economics
  • public policy
  • sustainability
  • decision-making
  • behavioral change

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

Article
The Effects of Temporal Discounting on Perceived Seriousness of Environmental Behavior: Exploring the Moderator Role of Consumer Attitudes Regarding Green Purchasing
Sustainability 2021, 13(13), 7130; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13137130 - 25 Jun 2021
Viewed by 528
Abstract
Emerging issues related to climate change have been explored in recent years as the need for appropriate behavioral solutions grows. However, one of the main problems raised and yet to be solved is the challenge to encourage people to act against climate change. [...] Read more.
Emerging issues related to climate change have been explored in recent years as the need for appropriate behavioral solutions grows. However, one of the main problems raised and yet to be solved is the challenge to encourage people to act against climate change. One of the identified barriers is the mental indirect link between the influence of human activities in the present and their future consequences. This psychological distance could be investigated by examining temporal discounting—the overvaluation of benefits in the present compared to benefits in the future—and its relationship to environmental behavior on consumers’ attitudes toward green purchasing. In this research, we conducted a survey (n = 337) to examine the relationship between temporal discounting and perceived seriousness of environmental behavior and investigated the moderating effect of consumers’ attitudes regarding green purchasing. The results show a moderating effect of these consumers’ attitudes on the relationship between temporal discounting and perceived seriousness of environmental behavior. These findings make important contributions to environmental policies by rethinking and adapting new solutions that promote behavioral change, namely by exploring psychological variables and identifying green consumption profiles. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Behavioral Economics and Sustainable Public Policies)
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Article
Evaluating Conscious Consumption: A Discussion of a Survey Development Process
Sustainability 2021, 13(6), 3339; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13063339 - 18 Mar 2021
Viewed by 688
Abstract
This paper is the outcome of a course project for Economics of Sustainability (Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts). Facilitated and under the direction of the instructor, course participants designed a survey instrument where questions and responses were developed to be indicators of behavioral bias [...] Read more.
This paper is the outcome of a course project for Economics of Sustainability (Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts). Facilitated and under the direction of the instructor, course participants designed a survey instrument where questions and responses were developed to be indicators of behavioral bias related to the environment. The consumer good targeted in the survey was convenience-based coffee consumption, and convenience was defined by the use of single-use disposable coffee cups. The discussion highlights the survey development process including literature review-based expectations specific to each question. The paper concludes with next steps, which involve the administration of the instrument and evaluation of the survey results. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Behavioral Economics and Sustainable Public Policies)
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Article
Nudging Consumers toward Healthier Food Choices: A Field Study on the Effect of Social Norms
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 1660; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13041660 - 04 Feb 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1310
Abstract
Food choices influence the health of individuals, and supermarkets are the place where part of the world population makes their food choices on a daily basis. Different methods to influence food purchasing habits are used, from promotions to food location. However, very few [...] Read more.
Food choices influence the health of individuals, and supermarkets are the place where part of the world population makes their food choices on a daily basis. Different methods to influence food purchasing habits are used, from promotions to food location. However, very few supermarket chains use social norms, the human need to conform to the perceived behavior of the group, to increase healthy food purchase habits. This research seeks to understand how a social norm nudge, a message conveying fruit and vegetable purchasing norms positioned in strategic places, can effectively change food choices. Using data from an intervention in a Portuguese supermarket, the fruit and vegetable purchase quantities of 1636 customers were measured over three months and compared with the corresponding period of the previous year. The results show that the nudge intervention positively affected those whose purchasing habits are categorized as less healthy, while those with healthy habits were slightly negatively affected. Moreover, a follow-up inferential statistical analysis allows us to conclude that applying this intervention at a larger scale would deliver significant financial results for the supermarket chain in which the study took place, by decreasing the costs related to produce perishability while simultaneously improving the health of the consumer and the sustainability of the planet. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Behavioral Economics and Sustainable Public Policies)
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Article
In Pursuit of Sustainable Mobile Policy: A Study of Consumer Tariff Preferences under Uncertainty
Sustainability 2021, 13(2), 540; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020540 - 08 Jan 2021
Viewed by 470
Abstract
Literature suggests that consumers expect disutility not only from payment uncertainties but also from reference uncertainties embedded in mobile plans. This paper develops a model of mobile plan choice incorporating both reference and payment uncertainties and uses this model to derive testable implications. [...] Read more.
Literature suggests that consumers expect disutility not only from payment uncertainties but also from reference uncertainties embedded in mobile plans. This paper develops a model of mobile plan choice incorporating both reference and payment uncertainties and uses this model to derive testable implications. The paper argues that consumer choice reflects those uncertainties more than could be justified by rational choice theory. Such patterns, the paper hypothesizes, would be more salient in the choice of data plan than voice plan because consumers tend to perceive data usage to be less controllable than voice usage, thus preferring the plan that reduces uncertainty. The paper tests the predictions with data from a laboratory study analyzing a series of choices between plans with different tariff structures—flat-rate, two-part, and three-part tariffs. As predicted, the results suggest that payment and reference uncertainties create significant disutility for consumers, especially when they perceive high uncertainty about their usage. Such understanding of consumer preference and underlying psychological biases is important in the sense that it provides an essential basis for the development of sustainable mobile policy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Behavioral Economics and Sustainable Public Policies)
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