Encouraging pro-environmental behavior: Do testimonials by experts work?

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Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, University of Delaware, Newark, DE.
Using behavioral nudges to motivate pro-environmental behavior appeals to program administrators seeking cost-effective ways to increase adoption of environmental practices. However, not all nudges are effective, and reporting when nudges fail is as important as documenting their successes. We used a framed field experiment with 308 adults from the Mid-Atlantic to test the effectiveness of an expert testimonial in encouraging adoption of native plants in residential settings. Though studies have found testimonials to be effective in other contexts, we find that the video testimonial had no effect on residents’ willingness to pay for native plants. Our analysis also shows that consumers who are younger, have higher incomes, and use other environmentally friendly practices on their lawns are more likely than other consumers to purchase native plants.