Behavioral Frictions in Ecofriendly Choices- Part 1

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Behavioral Frictions in Ecofriendly Choices- Part 1

Making a shift in behavior is exactly what we need to get to the ideal world that we aspire to for us and for the generations to come.

However, behavioral change is a flower with many thorns.

As we get up and about to implement change, we face resistance, and in behavioral science, we often talk about behavioral frictions or switching costs to refer to this resistance throughout the implementation phase.

So what are behavioral frictions? Specifically, those associated with Ecofriendly choices.

And are there some cool behavioral insights that can help us overcome these frictions?

What are behavioral frictions?

Behavioral frictions ‘refer to any factor or obstacle that increases the effort or time required for individuals to make a decision or complete a task’ (Jason Hreha, n.d.).

In ecofriendly consumption choices, it entails the many hurdles that make it hard for us to switch from conventional to ecofriendly alternatives, such as when we switch for organic personal care products, vegan diets, greener transportation modes, and so on.


In our recent paper titled ‘Green but at what cost?’ (ElHaffar et al., 2023), my colleagues and I categorized green behavioral frictions into three types:

  • physical costs: these entail going out of your way to find an alternative
  • emotional costs: these relate to breaking a relationship with brands, products, or recipes that you love, and that remind you of your childhood for instance
  • informational costs: these are related to either the lack of information or the information overload.

This blog post will specifically focus on the challenges arising from a lack of information.

Lack of Information

When making the switch from conventional to eco-friendly alternatives, a significant obstacle is often the lack of the right type of information.

It’s not just any information that’s missing, but the kind that prompts active decision-making – the information that nudges us to take action, abandon one product for another, or shift from one behavior to a more sustainable one.

Switching to sustainably sourced chocolate

Consider you have decided to switch from regular chocolate to sustainably sourced chocolate.

You first need to search for companies that make this kind of product. Brands that are distributed in your country and available in the stores in your city.

You might want to make sure they are not green washing, and that their claims are actually legitimate.

Next, you want to make sure that the chocolate tastes good. You are initially and after all a chocolate lover.

So you need to know what people are saying about the taste. Is it good? Is it dark enough you can taste the cacao? Is it sweet enough for your taste buds? Is it flavourful enough? Does it melt in your mouth easily?

So there is a lot of learning involved. Learning about the brands, the places, the claims, the flavors, other people’s opinions…etc

And this learning means time and effort invested. Time and effort that you might not be aware of. Hence the information search becomes a behavioral friction preventing you from taking action.

How can we overcome informational frictions?

For individuals in their ecofriendly journeys

  • Virtual Communities: Engage with online platforms like Facebook groups or Reddit communities focused on eco-friendly living. These spaces provide a wealth of information, shared experiences, and recommendations.
  • Applications: Did you know that some apps are built precisely to help get information that will help you throughout your ecofriendly journey? Take for instance Stokate: it gives you the opportunity to be informed, benefit from other people’s previous search, and also, contribute to helping those who are still in the search phase of their journey.
  • Beware of the friction: sometimes, simply knowing that switching to greener choices is going to take time and effort, can put your mind at ease throughout the journey, and prevent you from falling behind or giving up. So keep it in mind, and be prepared.

For companies promoting their ecofriendly products/services

  • Make Information Available: Ensure that detailed information about your eco-friendly products is easily accessible on your website and other platforms. Push the information on your products toward your clients, so they don’t have to spend ages trying to find you.  
  • Compete for performance: Remember that people want a Tasty vegan lasagna, not just a vegan lasagna. So try to give the best experience, and make it echo loud in the community, not just of ecofriendly people, but everybody!
  • Labels and certificates: Don’t claim things you cannot prove. Consumers are becoming more and more aware, and if they hear a claim, they want proof. Certifications and labels can help you help them make their choice and take action.

Take aways

  • Behavioral frictions, or behavioral costs are obstacles that prevent you from taking action.
  • There are three types of behavioral costs: informational, emotional and physical.
  • Lack of information is one behavioral cost that pertains to the absence of the right type of information when making a purchase decision.
  • To overcome the lack of information, we should be prepared, reach out to virtual communities, and simplify our search through apps built for that reason.
  • Companies promoting green products or services need to up their communication, push information toward consumers, acquire certifications and logos, and design a performant product that will compete and win over the conventional product.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post!

Stay tuned to part 2 of Behavioral Frictions, and as always have a green day and keep the green vibes going~


ElHaffar, G., Durif, F., Soman, D., & Dubé, L. (2023). Green… but at what cost? A typology and scale development of perceived green costs. Journal of Cleaner Production, 139402.

Jason Hreha. (n.d.). What is Friction in Behavioral Economics? [Blog]. The Behavioral Scientist. Retrieved January 19, 2024, from,decision%20or%20complete%20a%20task.

Behavioral Frictions in Ecofriendly Choices- Part 1

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