Do "Green" Products Cause Bad Behavior?

New research indicates that exposure to green products and the purchase of green products have vastly different effects on behavior. Nina Mazar and Chen-Bo Zhong found that exposure to green products results in more altruistic behavior later on, but actually purchasing green products seems to have the opposite effect: “people act less altruistically and are more likely to cheat and steal after purchasing green products than after purchasing conventional products.” So best to think twice before you buy those recycled paper towels. (HT: The Daily Dish)[%comments]

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  1. dogfish70 says:

    We only have the capacity to do so much good, you know?

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  2. Robert Anderson says:

    This has certainly been shown of Prius owners, see

    for a perspective.

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  3. G.D. says:

    This would have been interesting if I believed that the research is good. But like so many psychologists, they just had a few dozen bored students play some silly simulation games — and they decalre that this “proves” something about “people” in general!

    At best, this tells you something about the students of the University of Toronto. At worst, the results are completely worthless.

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  4. Mikki says:

    May be it like many of those good Sunday church goers who claim to be Christian. I’d more likely trust my wallet or my life to an Atheist.

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  5. CL says:

    Not much of an article. It does not give any details or statistics, so I tend not to take it too seriously.
    By, the way, Mikki, what does religion or lack of belief have anything to do with this issue? I don’t see where the dots connect.

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  6. Alex says:

    i look at this with great suspicion.

    They labeled “green” those who declared themselves as such ^in a game situation^. Maybe those who had a tendency to lie or to be dishonest changed “sides”, but the researchers didn’t deal with this, they just assumed all subjects declared honestly their preferences for green or conventional products.

    So at the very beginning there may be a bias – suppose actually that greens are the honest – then you would expect many “false” self-declared greens.

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  7. Brett says:

    Robert Anderson’s link above shows the exact reason; people are constantly comparing themselves to each other. So if I’m driving a more efficient vehicle it means I can drive farther, if I’m being a conservationist in one aspect then I get to splurge in another… because I’ve EARNED the right to.

    I don’t see any way around this, it’s human nature. But it’s also important that more and more people learn about these types of results. As some people see supposed gains, they’ll try to legislatively turn that into a mandate causing people to lose freedoms with no benefit.

    Not to mention that many ‘green’ activities aren’t really any better for the environment they just shift the environmental cost to a less visible area. Combine the ‘false-green’ practices with the ‘I’m green’ attitude mentioned here and we’re going in completely the wrong direction.

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  8. Joan in California says:

    Is this discarded material for an SNL skit?

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