Mental Representation Changes the Evaluation of Green Product Benefits

32 Pages Posted: 23 Apr 2011 Last revised: 7 Apr 2016

See all articles by Kelly Goldsmith

Kelly Goldsmith

Vanderbilt University - Marketing

George Newman

Yale University

Ravi Dhar

Yale School of Management - International Center for Finance

Date Written: April 12, 2016

Abstract

Although campaigns designed to promote pro-environmental behaviors increasingly highlight self-interest, recent research suggests that such appeals may not always be effective. For example, individuals are more likely to check their tire pressure when prompted with self-transcendent (i.e., benefits to the environment) versus economic motives; and, self-transcendent appeals are more likely to promote recycling behaviors than are self-interested appeals. The present experiments identify an important psychological factor that helps to explain when highlighting economic benefits will be more or less effective at encouraging pro-environmental behaviors. Specifically, we demonstrate that highlighting economic benefits (e.g., the money a consumer can save) reduces consumer interest in sustainable products when individuals are in more abstract mindsets compared to when the evaluation is more immediate (i.e., their mindset is more concrete). Further, we provide evidence that this shift interest is driven by the lack of “fit” between abstract thinking and economic motivations, in the context of pro-environmental behavior.

Keywords: construal level theory, choice, pro-social, secondary benefits

Suggested Citation

Goldsmith, Kelly and Newman, George and Dhar, Ravi, Mental Representation Changes the Evaluation of Green Product Benefits (April 12, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1817861 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1817861

Kelly Goldsmith (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University - Marketing ( email )

Nashville, TN 37203
United States

George Newman

Yale University ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

Ravi Dhar

Yale School of Management - International Center for Finance ( email )

Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06520-8200
United States

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