ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2016, Vol. 48 ›› Issue (12): 1574-1588.

### Green or hedonic? The impact of proenvironmental action on consumption preference

WU Bo1; LI Dongjin2; WANG Caiyu3

1. (1 Business School, Tianjin University of Finance and Economics, Tianjin 300222, China) (2 Business School, Nankai University, Tianjin 300071, China) (3 Department of Psychology, Xinyang Normal University, Xinyang 464000, China)
• Received:2015-12-07 Published:2016-12-24 Online:2016-12-24
• Contact: WU Bo, E-mail: wubo212006@126.com

Abstract:

In our daily life, people have many chances to engage in environmental actions (e.g., bringing one’s own shopping bags, using products that can be recycled, buying energy efficient household appliances). Prior literature mainly focuses on how to encourage environmentally responsible behaviors. Only a few studies examine the influence of environmental actions on subsequent behaviors. However, the results of these studies are not consistent. For example, some studies find that reminding people they commonly perform environmental behaviors promotes them do more environmental conscious behaviors. On the contrary, other studies indicate that people are less altruistic after buying green products than after buying conventional products. Focusing on consumption behaviors, this study proposed that when green consumption and hedonic consumption were competing with each other, environmental value moderated the impact of environmental action on subsequent consumption preference. Moreover, this study also argued that the effect of environmental action on subsequent consumption preference depended on environmental action motivation. Three studies were conducted to test the hypotheses. To test the moderating effect of environmental value, Study 1used a 2 (environmental action: yes vs. no) × 2 (environmental value: weak vs. strong) between-subjects design. Environmental values were measured using the Schwartz Value Survey. Environmental action was manipulated by asking participants to read a scenario in which they either had performed an environmental action or not. To test the effect of environmental action motivation, Study 2 used a 3 (environmental action: intrinsically motivated vs. extrinsically motivated vs. no) × 2 (environmental value: weak vs. strong) between-subjects design. Environmental action motivation was manipulated by asking participants to engage in an environmental survey either to benefit the environment or to benefit themselves. Participants in the control group answered some questions irrelevant to the environmental protection. Based on the result of study 2, study 3 further tested the effect of environmental action motivation on the relationship between environmental action and subsequent consumption preference, using another way to measure environmental value. We asked participants to rank the priority of 11 values on a list. The rank of environmental value reflected the importance of environmental value to participants. The results revealed that when green consumption conflicted with hedonic consumption, environmental value moderated the effect of environmental action on subsequent consumption behaviors. Specifically, environmental action increased green consumption (vs. hedonic consumption) for consumers with strong environmental value, but decreased green consumption (vs. hedonic consumption) for consumers with weak environmental value. Furthermore, environmental action motivation also influenced the effect of environmental action on subsequent consumption behaviors. Specifically, both intrinsically and extrinsically motivated environmental actions increased green consumption (vs. hedonic consumption) for consumers with strong environmental value through enhanced environmental self-accountability, but only intrinsically motivated environmental action decreased green consumption (vs. hedonic consumption) for consumers with weak environmental value through increased perception of environmental goal progress. In conclusion, the present research demonstrated that both environmental value and environmental action motivation influenced how environmental action affected subsequent green consumption versus hedonic consumption. Theoretically, our research provides insights into the impact of environmental action on subsequent consumption. Practically, our research suggests that marketers should provide environmental cues to motivate consumers with strong environmental value to choose green products, and combine hedonic consumption with environmental actions to motivate consumers with weak environmental value to engage in environmental actions.