The Recycled Self: Consumers' Disposal Decisions of Identity-Linked Products

Posted: 12 May 2016

See all articles by Remi Trudel

Remi Trudel

Independent

Jennifer Argo

University of Alberta - Department of Marketing, Business Economics & Law

Matthew Meng

Boston University - Questrom School of Business

Date Written: March 25, 2016

Abstract

It has been known for some time that consumers’ identities influence purchasing decisions and people form strong identity connections, or “links,” with products and brands. However, research has yet to determine whether identity-linked products are differentially treated at disposal in comparison to products that are not identity linked. Across seven studies, the current research shows that when an everyday product (e.g., paper, cups, aluminum cans) is linked to a consumer’s identity, it is less likely to be trashed and more likely to be recycled. Further, the tendency to recycle an identity-linked product increases with the strength and positivity of the connection between the consumer and product (or brand). Finally, the disposal behavior can be explained by consumers’ motivation to avoid trashing a product that is linked to the self because it is viewed as an identity threat. In sum, consumers will be more likely to recycle (rather than trash) a product if the product is linked to a consumer’s identity. This occurs because placing an identity-linked product in the trash is symbolically similar to trashing a part of the self, a situation consumers are motivated to avoid.

Keywords: recycling, sustainability, identity, disposal, decision making

Suggested Citation

Trudel, Remi and Argo, Jennifer and Meng, Matthew, The Recycled Self: Consumers' Disposal Decisions of Identity-Linked Products (March 25, 2016). Journal of Consumer Research, Forthcoming, University of Alberta School of Business Research Paper No. 2778720, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2778720

Remi Trudel

Independent ( email )

Jennifer Argo (Contact Author)

University of Alberta - Department of Marketing, Business Economics & Law ( email )

Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2R6
Canada

Matthew Meng

Boston University - Questrom School of Business ( email )

595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA MA 02215
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
591
PlumX Metrics