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New research has found that most people tend to overestimate just how environmentally friendly they are. The intriguing findings were published in the peer-reviewed journal Basic and Applied Social Psychology.
As part of the study, a group of researchers at the University of Gothenburg recruited 4,042 participants from various regions of the world, including the United States, England, India, and Sweden, to complete online surveys.
During the online surveys, the participants responded as to their level of preoccupation with initiating behavior that is considered environmentally friendly in contrast to others. Certain behaviors researchers looked out for included using fewer plastic bags, purchasing eco-friendly products, and reducing household energy.
According to the findings, it was concluded that most of the participants rated themselves as exhibiting more environmentally friendly behavior compared to others.
“The present research aimed to test if people perceive themselves as more pro-environmental than others,” the findings detailed. “The data clearly support a self-serving bias causing people to overestimate their own climate change mitigation, suggesting that most people perceive themselves as more pro-environmental than others.”
Magnus Bergquist, the study’s lead researcher, concluded: “The results point out our tendency to overestimate our own abilities, which is in line with previous studies where most people consider themselves to be more honest, more creative, and better drivers than others.”
“This study shows that over-optimism, or the “better-than-average” effect, also applies to environmentally friendly behaviours.”