Can Thoughts of Having Less Ever Promote Prosocial Preferences? The Relationship between Scarcity, Construal Level, and Sustainable Product Adoption

Forthcoming, Journal of the Association for Consumer Research

Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management Research Paper

61 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2018 Last revised: 9 Dec 2019

See all articles by Kelly Goldsmith

Kelly Goldsmith

Vanderbilt University - Marketing

Caroline Roux

Concordia University, Quebec - John Molson School of Business

Anne Wilson

Georgetown University - Robert Emmett McDonough School of Business

Date Written: December 9, 2019

Abstract

Although many individuals endorse prosocial causes, little is understood about the factors that determine when people’s desire to consume in ways that benefit society as a whole will exceed their desire to accrue direct benefits to the self. We address this question by testing how reminders of resource scarcity affect consumers’ interest in sustainable products, and whether highlighting the prosocial or personal benefits associated with such products moderates this effect. We demonstrate the novel result that consumers exposed to reminders of resource scarcity are more likely to choose a sustainable product when the product’s prosocial (vs. personal) benefits are emphasized and the associated costs to the self are low. We provide evidence that this effect occurs because reminders of resource scarcity promote an abstract level of construal, which can carry over to affect decision making.

Keywords: scarcity, resource scarcity, prosocial behavior, sustainability, construal level, choice

Suggested Citation

Goldsmith, Kelly and Roux, Caroline and Wilson, Anne, Can Thoughts of Having Less Ever Promote Prosocial Preferences? The Relationship between Scarcity, Construal Level, and Sustainable Product Adoption (December 9, 2019). Forthcoming, Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management Research Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3255731

Kelly Goldsmith (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University - Marketing ( email )

Nashville, TN 37203
United States

Caroline Roux

Concordia University, Quebec - John Molson School of Business ( email )

1455 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W.
Montreal, Quebec H3G 1M8
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/profcaroroux/

Anne Wilson

Georgetown University - Robert Emmett McDonough School of Business

3700 O Street, NW
Washington, DC 20057
United States

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