Track 3: Sustainability & Well Being
Yael Steinhart (Tel Aviv University)

3A. Sustainable Consumption

Friday, March 4
9:30am – 11:00am EST
Discussant: Amir Grinstein (Northeastern University)
MC: Yonat Zwebner (Reichman University)
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Student Coordinator: Deepak Sirwani (Cornell University) (

Competitive Papers

Not All Green is Equal: Consumers' Systematic Bias in Evaluating Sustainable Products
Authors: Elina Hur (Cornell University), Suzanne Shu (Cornell University)
Presenting Author: Elina Hur (Cornell University)
We examine whether consumers have a systematic bias in evaluating sustainable products based on the order of environmental benefit a product offers and the environmental harm generated by the product. We found that people prefer sustainable products that provide environmental benefits following harm (e.g. a car that is conventionally-manufactured that runs electric) more than products that generate benefits followed by harm (e.g. a car that is sustainably-manufactured that runs on gasoline). This effect is driven by greater perceived impact on the environment, and is moderated by individual motivations for sustainability.
Mindfulness Encourages Sustainable Behavior by Reducing Perceived Effort
Authors: Carina Thuerridl (University of Amsterdam), Ruta Ruzeviciute (University of Tennessee, Knoxville)
Presenting Author: Carina Thuerridl (University of Amsterdam)
To mitigate the detrimental effects of human (over)consumption on the planet, individuals need to change their consumption habits. Behaving sustainability is effortful, however, which inhibits positive behavior change. We show that mindfulness, i.e., “the enhanced attention to and open awareness of current experience or present reality” – when directed at physical sensations – can decrease the perceived effort that is often associated with sustainable behaviors. This, in turn, increases individuals’ likelihood to behave sustainably. Our research adds to the emerging literature on the link between mindfulness and sustainability and provides an effective intervention to overcome a well-known barrier to sustainable consumption.
Feeling Small but Thinking Big: Awe-induced Positive Self-diminishment Motivates Sustainable Consumption
Authors: Srinwanti Chaudhury (University of Pittsburgh), Nitika Garg (University of New South Wales), Colin Gabler (Ohio University)
Presenting Author: Srinwanti Chaudhury (University of Pittsburgh)
Marketers often struggle to increase the appeal of relatively-expensive eco-friendly products while making positive associations with the consumption experience. Here, we propose an alternative conceptualization – positive self-diminishment or an association of positivity while feeling small – that addresses the dilemma. Specifically, drawing on an emotion perspective, we explore the concept of the ‘positive self-diminishment effect’ by examining one antecedent – the emotion of awe. Over five studies, including archival data as well as a field study, we show how awe-induced positive self-diminishment guides higher valuation of sustainable products. Answering recent calls for research to examine other positive emotions, we contribute to existing literature by evaluating a range of positive emotions and demonstrating that awe-induced positive self-diminishment is indeed, a stronger and more efficient motivator of sustainable actions.
Effortlessly Green: When and Why Effort Impacts Environmentally Friendly Consumption
Authors: Dafna Goor (London Business School), Yonat Zwebner (The Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya)
Presenting Author: Dafna Goor (London Business School)
This research shows that effort lowers consumers’ preference for environmentally friendly products, producing what we call the effortlessly green phenomenon. Five studies, combining actual purchases from an e-commerce platform, field experiments, and incentive-compatible lab experiments, demonstrate this effect across consumption contexts and consumer populations. This behavior arises because effort increases feelings of deservingness, which in turn make consumers self-focused. This work contributes to theory and practice by enhancing the understanding of the antecedents of eco-friendly behavior in the marketplace.

Flash Talks

The Time Framing Effect on Consumption and Waste Avoidance
Authors: Minkwang Jang (The University of Chicago Booth School of Business), Ayelet Fishbach (The University of Chicago Booth School of Business)
Presenting Author: Minkwang Jang (The University of Chicago Booth School of Business)
Many consumer goods and activities have limited time window for consumption (e.g., food, media streaming, sporting events). The current time within this time period can be framed as time elapsed since the beginning (“elapsed time”) or time remaining until expiration or discontinuation (“remaining time”). Across five studies, we demonstrate that these time frames lead to different time trends of motivation to consume time-bound products and services: remaining-time frame leads to increasing likelihood of consumption over time relative to elapsed-time frame and even deviations from anticipated enjoyment. We show that this effect is mediated by concerns about waste and responsibility.
It’s Wasteful: When Talking about Disposal Hurts Product Evaluations
Authors: Sylvia Chang (University of Washington), Nidhi Agrawal (University of Washington)
Presenting Author: Sylvia Chang (University of Washington)
Current research demonstrates that when disposal is referenced in describing a product, consumers are more likely to perceive it as wasteful, and this heightened wastefulness perception in turn leads to decreased purchase likelihood. This disposal reference effect occurs even though the reference is irrelevant to the actual wastefulness of the product, and we examine when this effect is likely to occur and how to mitigate the association between disposal and wastefulness. Our findings make theoretical and practical contributions by providing insights on how consumers’ conceptualization of disposal and waste influences their decision-making.


Reduced Control Helps People Buy Local: Role of Warm Glow Feelings
Authors: Arani Roy (McGill University), Ashesh Mukherjee (McGill University)
Presenting Author: Arani Roy (McGill University)
People in their daily lives often feel that they are not in control of their decisions, choices, and actions. This loss of perceived control affects their consumption decisions. In our research, we explore how this loss of control impacts an individual’s local consumption intent. Local consumption is important in today’s world, as it helps communities create jobs, keeps the money within the locality, and reduces ecological footprint. Through three studies, we show how people in low (high) perceived control are likely to exhibit higher local consumption intent through an affective mechanism.
Does Belief in Karma Make Consumers Willing to Spend More on Ethical Products?
Authors: Summer Kim (University of Kansas), Yexin Li (University of Kansas)
Presenting Author: Summer Kim (University of Kansas)
Belief in karma–the idea that good or bad actions beget positive or negative outcomes–has been shown to impact consumer prosocial behavior. Yet little is known how this variable influences consumption decisions and the extent to which consumers are willing to sacrifice their own self-interest. Consumers with higher beliefs in karma are more likely to support ethical brands, reject unethical brands and make ethical choices despite higher cost, an effect that is driven by belief in the contagion of brand essence. We hence suggest socially responsible brands (which are often more expensive) target consumers who believe in karma.
Received! The Effect of Take-Back Program Acknowledgment on Perceptions of Company Sustainability and Consumer Recycling Intentions
Authors: Yuly Hong (Georgia Institute of Technology), Sara Dommer (Pennsylvania State University), Karen Winterich (Pennsylvania State University)
Presenting Author: Yuly Hong (Georgia Institute of Technology)
An increasing number of companies offer take-back programs for their products or related products, whereby consumers send or drop off used items for recycling. Beyond simply offering such take-back programs, are there additional actions companies can take to increase their sustainability image and encourage repeat recycling from consumers? This research demonstrates the positive effect of company acknowledgment on consumers’ sustainability perceptions of the company and future recycling intentions with the company, the mediating roles of transparency and trust, as well as a downstream behavioral consequence on consumer word of mouth in the context of take-back programs.
Climate Uprising: Examining the Effects of Power on Consumers' Responses to Sustainable Products
Authors: Amira Mahmoud (Suez Canal University), Aric Rindfleisch (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
Presenting Author: Amira Mahmoud (Suez Canal University)
Consumers around the globe are just as concerned about climate change as they are about the spread of infectious diseases. Although a number of market initiatives are taking place to ensure a shift towards sustainable production and consumption, consumers are reluctant to buy sustainable products. The current research examines how power shapes consumers’ purchase intentions and behaviors towards sustainable products. We report the results of an experimental study demonstrating that power plays a pivotal role in encouraging the selection of products with sustainable attributes. Specifically, low power consumers weight sustainable product attributes more heavily compared to high power consumers. The results also rule out two alternative explanations including advertisement involvement and product knowledge. We also measure consumers actual purchase behavior to show that the effects of power extend to actual purchase contexts.
Sustainable Consumption in Tight and Loose Cultures: A Gendered Expression of Femininity or Alternate Masculinity?
Authors: Tanvi Gupta (Indian Institute of Management Udaipur), Reetika Gupta (Essec Business School), Malobi Mukherjee (James Cook University)
Presenting Author: Reetika Gupta (Essec Business School)
Sustainable consumption is a gendered act—reflecting femininity. In our research, we explore the role of cultural tightness/looseness on sustainable consumption through its influence on gender-ordering. Through a series of archival datasets, we show that tight (vs. loose) cultures score lower on sustainable consumption, mediated by gender-ordering. Additionally, an experiment shows how cultural tightness interacts with distinct gender identities to influence sustainable consumption. Specifically, in loose cultures, both men and women express their respective gender identities through lower (higher) preference for sustainable products, whereas, in tight cultures, both men and women deviate from their gender identities by reversing their preferences.
You’re Further Along in Your Life: Consumers’ Cavalier Usage of Repurposed Products
Authors: Sylvia Chang (University of Washington), Jennifer D'Angelo (Texas Christian University), Francesca Valsesia (university of washington)
Presenting Author: Sylvia Chang (University of Washington)
This work examines how consumers perceive and use products that are made out of repurposed materials. Across three studies, we find support for our prediction that consumers are more likely to be cavalier with products made from repurposed materials. This careless usage behavior extends to different product categories and is driven by the perception that a repurposed product is further along in its product lifespan even though the product itself is new. Our research makes theoretical and practical contributions by providing insights on consumers’ attitudes and behaviors toward sustainable products.
The “Vegetarian Protein = Less Nourishing” Intuition: Addressing the Bias that Vegetarian Protein is Less Nourishing than Meat
Authors: Sumayya Shaikh (Grenoble Ecole de Management), Amanda Pruski Yamim (Grenoble Ecole de Management), Carolina Werle (Grenoble Ecole de Management)
Presenting Author: Sumayya Shaikh (Grenoble Ecole de Management)
This research tests an unexplored bias, that consumers instinctively infer vegetarian proteins to be less nourishing than equivalent meat proteins. We name this bias the “vegetarian protein = less nourishing” intuition. Four studies compare two types of protein (vegetarian vs. animal) and show that the “vegetarian protein = less nourishing” intuition significantly affects consumption behavior. Specifically, consumers purchase more proteins, calories, carbohydrates, and fat when exposed to vegetarian proteins than meat proteins. This research is important for marketers and public policy makers, as the proposed bias can add to the worldwide obesity epidemic due to the resulting increased consumption.
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