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Measuring the Environmental Cost of Hypocrisy
Ecological Economics (2014)
  • Arthur Caplan, Utah State University
This paper provides an example of howto estimate the marginal environmental cost of hypocrisy using revealed behavior and self-identification survey responses from coffee drinkers regarding their use of cardboard and plastic (i.e., non-reusable) cups. Coffee shops provide a convenient microcosm for assessing the impact of hypocritical behavior because of (1) readily available, cheap substitutes (i.e., reusable coffee cups), (2) a relatively accurate estimate of the environmental (in particular, carbon) cost associated with using non-reusable cups, and (3) the ability to delineate hypocritical behavior by observing a choice with relatively few potential confounding factors. Hypocritical behavior is measured as a geometric mean of how often an individual takes coffee in a nonreusable cup and the degree to which the individual self-identifies as being concerned about his environmental footprint. All else equal, the more often a person takes his coffee in a non-reusable cup and the greater the degree to which he self-identifies as being concerned about his footprint, the greater the individual's “hypocrisy score.” Controlling for other attitudinal and demographic characteristics (including self-identified awareness of environmental issues and willingness to pay for the convenience of using a non-reusable cup), we are able to determine the marginal effect of an individual's hypocrisy score on the environmental cost associated with the use of nonreusable coffee cups.
  • hypocritical bias,
  • hypocrisy score,
  • environmental cost
Publication Date
December, 2014
Citation Information
Arthur Caplan. "Measuring the Environmental Cost of Hypocrisy" Ecological Economics Vol. 108 (2014)
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