Longoni, C., Gollwitzer. P. M., & Oettingen, G. (2014). A green paradox: Validating green choices has ironic effects on behavior, cognition, and perception. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 50, 158-165.
Does validating the purchase of green products hamper subsequent green behaviors in people committed to the identity goal of being green? Positive feedback on purchasing green products led to less recycling compared to negative feedback, with no feedback participants lying in between (Study 1). Assuming that receiving positive feedback on buying green products results in a state of goal completeness, we hypothesized and observed that constructs (e.g., earth) related to being green were the least accessible in positive feedback participants as compared to no feedback and (even more so) to negative feedback participants (Study 2). This pattern of results also emerged with respect to the perception of the color green (i.e., a green patch was perceived the least green by positive feedback participants; Study 3). These findings suggest that being praised for buying green creates a state of goal completeness that hampers subsequent striving for the aspired-to identity goal