ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2022, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (6): 1191-1204.

• Conceptual Framework •

### The impact of materialism on green consumption: Promotion or inhibition?

LI Jing(), WU Xuyao, YUE Lei, ZENG Xiangli, FANG Qingyuan

1. School of Psychology, Central China Normal University; Key Laboratory of Cyberpsychology and Behavior, Ministry of Education, and Hubei Human Development and Mental Health Key Laboratory, Wuhan 430079, China
• Received:2021-11-06 Online:2022-06-15 Published:2022-04-26
• Contact: LI Jing E-mail:jinglee@ccnu.edu.cn

Abstract:

In order to build a beautiful China, the Chinese government has put forward many policies to promote the construction of ecological civilization, among which the 14th Five-Year Plan clearly points out “promoting the development of green, healthy and safe consumption.” It is apparent that green consumption is a vital measure for solving environmental problems, however, in today's Chinese society, materialistic values are prevalent. In this context, the promotion of green consumption is an issue worthy of consideration. Previous studies have explored the relationship between materialism and green consumption. Some scholars have found a negative correlation between the two, while others have found a positive correlation. On account of these contradictory results, the current research puts forward an innovative perspective and for the first time takes both conspicuous and inconspicuous characteristics of green products themselves as the breakthrough point. In other words, green consumption is divided into conspicuous and inconspicuous green consumption according to the showable nature of green products and whether they are printed with environmental protection signs. Based on this, this research intends to comprehensively use questionnaire survey, behavioral experiment, eye movement experiment, field experiment, and educational intervention to conduct a series of four studies. First, it investigates the boundary conditions of materialism affecting green consumption, that is, the moderating effect of the conspicuous characteristics of green products. It further explores the different psychological mechanisms of materialism affecting conspicuous green consumption and inconspicuous green consumption. We believe that when green products have conspicuous characteristics, they can help materialists build and maintain their own identity and show their unique identity and status, thus promoting them to show conspicuous green consumption behavior, that is, “materialism → status motivation → conspicuous green consumption”. However, when green products do not have the characteristics of showing off, they cannot meet the materialists' pursuit of identity and status. At this time, the essence of their indifference to the environment is revealed, and they may show a negative pro-environment attitude, which inhibits the inconspicuous green consumption behavior, that is, “materialism → pro-environment attitude → inconspicuous green consumption”. Finally, aiming at the negative impact of materialism on inconspicuous green consumption, this research will conduct further intervention studies to investigate the moderating role of nature contact in the impact of materialism on pro-environmental attitudes and inconspicuous green consumption. The above studies not only theoretically integrate the contradictory results of existing research and provide a new idea for solving the existing research differences, but also have important management implications for effectively encouraging people to participate in green consumption behavior under the social background of the prevalence of materialistic values. Therefore, we can use the identity construction or status motivation of materialists, such as adding environmental protection labels to green products to increase the flaunting of products in promoting their conspicuous green consumption; alternatively, we can change the materialists’ negative pro-environmental attitudes and promote their participation in inconspicuous green consumption by improving their degree of nature contact.

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