As recent contributions to consumer research and social psychology demonstrate, it would clearly not suffice to analyze the rebound effect exclusively from an economic perspective. Rather, psychological factors may also underpin the rebound, e.g. in the form of moral licensing: Resource conservation in one domain, such as water consumption, may lead people to be more wasteful elsewhere, e. g. with respect to their electricity consumption. To date, the existence of such cross-domain effects has largely escaped empirical scrutiny. The proposed study aims at filling this void by empirically investigating such psychological effects, as well as direct, indirect and macroeconomic rebound effects. The focus is on the most relevant areas in the resource use of German households: electricity and water consumption, heating demand, and gasoline/diesel consumption. To this end, LICENSE relies on an interdisciplinary conceptual framework developed predominantly from (behavioral) economics, psychology, and sociology, employing several empirical methodologies including experiments, micro-econometric analysis of primary and secondary data, micro-simulations and macroeconomic analyses.
In sum, the project will: (1) quantify the direct rebound effect for key resources consumed by households; (2) explore whether these consumption patterns are characterized by moral licensing and cross-domain spillovers; and (3) analyze macroeconomic implications.