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

3B. Reduce & Reuse

Friday, March 4
11:15am – 12:45pm EST
Discussant: Rebecca Walker Reczek (Ohio State University)
MC: Sara Loughran Dommer (Pennsylvania State University)
Calendar Invite: Add to calendar
Student Coordinator: Deepak Sirwani (Cornell University) (

Competitive Papers

When Products are People: The Impact of Anthropomorphism on Recycling
Authors: Alisa Wu (Columbia University, Columbia Business School), Maayan Malter (Columbia University, Columbia Business School), Gita Johar (Columbia University)
Presenting Author: Alisa Wu (Columbia University, Columbia Business School)
"Four studies test a novel intervention (and underlying mechanism) to increase recycling. We find that anthropomorphized products are more likely to be recycled than their equivalent (control) counterparts. Anthropomorphism elicits a broader mindset (we rather than me) and thus an abstract construal level, shifting consumers’ focus from undesirable means (exerting effort) to the desirable ends (protecting the environment) and therefore increasing their likelihood to recycle. The mediating process is both directly tested through analyzing the abstractness of the language used when talking about anthropomorphized products and indirectly tested through two moderators: adding visual cues and making the means salient."
Inequality Undermines The Sharing Economy
Authors: Jinyan Xiang (Virginia Tech), Mario Pandelaere (Virginia Tech)
Presenting Author: Jinyan Xiang (Virginia Tech)
Across four studies, we document that inequality prevents consumers from using and contributing to the sharing economy because inequality lowers interpersonal trust. We demonstrate this effect in various sharing economy contexts (e.g., lodge-sharing, ride-sharing and peer-to-peer lending) and using different manipulations of inequality. These consumer-level findings suggest that inequality could hinder the development of a sharing economy in the long run by discouraging potential providers and users. This research adds to both inequality and sharing literature by documenting a new consumer consequence of inequality and identifying a critical socioeconomic determinant of the development of the sharing economy.
The Salience of Choice Increases Pro-Environmental Behavior
Authors: Shilpa Madan (Virginia Tech), Kevin Nanakdewa (University of Toronto), Jinyan Xiang (Virginia Tech), Krishna Savani (Nanyang Business School, Nanyang Technological University)
Presenting Author: Shilpa Madan (Virginia Tech)
Across eight archival, correlational, and experimental studies, this research documents a novel driver to increase consumers’ support for the environment despite the associated costs—the salience of choice. The stronger the sense of choice consumers have, the more they believe their actions can make a difference, and consequently, the more they donate to environmental causes, support environmental taxes to reduce consumption of environmentally detrimental goods, and endorse sustainable products. Importantly, we replicate the effect across multiple diverse samples, operationalizations of choice, and incentive-compatible pro-environmental measures. Theoretical, managerial, and policy implications are discussed.
Getting Rid of Self-Threat: Consumer Disposal as a Compensatory Strategy
Authors: Jessica Gamlin (University of Oregon)
Presenting Author: Jessica Gamlin (University of Oregon)
Theories of compensatory consumption focus on the important role of consumer acquisition in resolving self-threats. Recent research on minimalism and decluttering, however, highlights how consumer disposal can help shape identity and define the self-concept. Bridging these literatures, we theorize that self-threat elicits “compensatory disposal” (i.e., donating, selling, or trashing possessions that fall outside the domain of the specific threat). Study 1 shows that consumers experiencing greater self-threat are more likely to join minimalist groups, which are dedicated to disposal of possessions. Study 2 sampled within a minimalist group and showed that prolonged membership, which entailed greater disposal of possessions, reduced self-threat. Study 3 experimentally elicited self-threat (vs. no threat) and showed that this heightened compensatory disposal motives. Taken together, these studies suggest a novel strategy that consumers use to compensate when they face self-threat.

Flash Talks

Blue Begets Green: Advertising Imagery Influences Consumer Recycling Rates
Authors: Jessica Gamlin (University of Oregon), Matthew Meng (Utah State University)
Presenting Author: Matthew Meng (Utah State University)
Encouraging consumers to properly recycle materials is critical for the ecology and well-being of species across our planet. Substantial campaigns have therefore focused on educating consumers to place only clean materials in the recycling bin and to trash all dirty materials, even if those materials would otherwise be recyclable (e.g., greasy cardboard pizza box). This research examines how advertisements printed on recyclable material (i.e., paper) impact consumer disposal of such materials. We examine the key aspect of a material’s recyclability—“clean” versus “dirty”—combined with a pivotal element of advertising content—literal versus figural imagery. The study we present shows that print advertisements depicting literally clean (vs. dirty) imagery increases consumer recycling rates, but those depicting figuratively clean (vs. dirty) imagery undermines consumer recycling rates. Thus, firms’ use of literal and figurative advertisements merely depicting “clean” or “dirty” imagery has consequences for consumer’s ecological behaviors.
A Fitting Engagement: Can Personalized Body Avatars Boost Consumer Experience and Reduce Waste?
Authors: William Hampton (University of St. Gallen), Anouk Bergner (University of St. Gallen)
Presenting Author: William Hampton (University of St. Gallen)
Innovative AI-tools harbor potential to address the $550 billion waste from returned clothes due to incorrect sizing. Three-dimensional virtual personalized avatars are a new way to capture a consumer’s size and physical characteristics, allowing shoppers to “try on” products from home with a high degree of fit accuracy. Despite this exciting development, research on such novel technologies is scarce and predominantly concerned with usability rather than consumer implications. In an initial study, the current work demonstrates that consumers who “try on” clothes with a personalized avatar feel more involved in the shopping process and increased product fit confidence, which ultimately leads to increased spending during simulated online shopping. Participants also reported their avatar was a better self-representation than industry models. We hope our findings spur more extensive research on novel consumer technologies with the potential to promote sustainable consumption while simultaneously improving consumer inclusion and online shopping experience.


It Was Hard for Them to Sell It: The Impact of Previous Owner’s Attachment on Buyer Perceptions of Contamination and Condition of Secondhand Items
Authors: Sara Hanson (University of Richmond), Catherine Armstrong Soule (Western Washington University)
Presenting Author: Catherine Armstrong Soule (Western Washington University)
This research explores how a previous owner’s attachment to a secondhand item impacts buyers’ perceptions. Specifically, three studies demonstrate that attachment to a used item alters buyers’ perceptions in a counterintuitive manner. Initial qualitative evidence documents lay assumptions that sellers of secondhand items have low attachment to items and uncertainty around the significance of the previous owner’s identity. However, experimental results demonstrate that when the previous owner indicates attachment to their item, buyers perceive the item to be less contaminated and in better condition, contradicting the notion that attachment leads to negative perceptions of more usage and wear.
History Sells: How Positive Usage History Shapes Consumers' Preferences for Used Products
Authors: Yang Cao (Xiamen University), Charis Li (Grenoble Ecole de Management), Jun Ye (Xiamen University)
Presenting Author: Yang Cao (Xiamen University)
This research investigates how positive usage history (i.e., the unique actualization of intended benefits of a product for the previous owner) affects consumers’ preferences for used products. Three studies show that positive usage history increases consumers’ preferences (e.g., choice, purchase intention, willingness to pay) when relevant (vs. irrelevant) to the potential buyers' usage goal, due to the perceived instrumentality of used products (i.e., the extent to which the products can help or hinder the goal achievement). Furthermore, ownership cues left by previous owners can enhance the effect. These findings shed light on product history value in the context of second-hand transactions and offer important implications for marketers.
Reluctance to Repair: Relative Income, Entitlement, and Product Perfectionism as Barriers to DIY Repair.
Authors: Aprajita Gautam (University of Texas at Austin), Rajagopal Raghunathan (University of Texas at Austin)
Presenting Author: Aprajita Gautam (University of Texas at Austin)
Repair is recognized as a key component of the circular economic system that aims to minimize waste. However, surprisingly little is known about what causes a few individuals to repair and others to not. It is assumed that the poor repair while the rich dispose. The current work highlights the importance of perceived relative income in determining whether one chooses to engage in DIY (do-it-yourself) repair. We posit that over and above objective income, feeling relatively wealthier than the people around you can increase the reluctance to repair. Across 4 studies, we replicate this effect using various product types, using different measures of repair, and controlling for multiple covariates. Further, we show that this effect is due to people higher in perceived relative income feeling more entitled and believing that they should own the best products. This results in the devaluation of old/broken things and subsequently higher reluctance to repair.
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