There are concerns that efforts to increase energy efficiency in the domestic sector will be undermined by rebound effects. For example, money saved on fuel because of home insulation could enable an individual to heat their home for longer or to purchase other carbon intensive goods or services. A novel approach to understanding the issue of rebound effects is through the application of “compensatory beliefs” (a concept developed in Health Psychology) to environmentally significant behaviours. In an environmental domain a compensatory belief would be that the negative effects of failing to act pro-environmentally (either by actively choosing to undertake a harmful behaviour or by simply failing to engage in positive actions) can be compensated for by undertaking a pro-environmental behaviour. The concern is that compensatory beliefs could result in a range of counterproductive behavioural patterns which could put people at risk of failing to obtain their pro-environmental goals (e.g. reducing personal carbon emissions) and result in environmental damage.

To date assessing endorsement of compensatory green beliefs (CGBs) using self-report measures has provided limited results. This study therefore tested the reliability and validity of a new measure of CGBs designed by Kaklamanou, Jones, Webb, and Walker (2013) to identify what problems, if any, people encounter when completing the CGB scale. This was deemed important because being aware of potential limitations of measures is central to understanding the results obtained through their use. This study also aimed to build upon and develop the concept of compensation by investigating if, when, why and how such beliefs are held or acted upon. 41 participants completed a think-aloud exercise and follow up semi-structured interview. A variety of issues with the CGB measure were identified including issues common to questionnaire completion as well as issues specific to the CGB scale. Interviews provided insights into the personal and social functions of compensation. These included the reduction of dissonance when people are tempted to act un-environmentally, enabling self-licensing and managing self-image and reputation. This poster will provide an overview of the project to date and outline plans for future research.