Revisiting the Green Consumer – Attitudes, Identity and the Conditions of Environmental Consumption

Friday, 20 July 2018: 11:30
Oral Presentation
Guido MEHLKOP, University of Erfurt, Germany
Robert NEUMANN, Technische Universität Dresden, Germany
Peter GRAEFF, Institute of Social Sciences, Christian-Albrechts University Kiel, Kiel, Germany
Empirical studies reveal that even respondents with pro-environmental concerns frequently do not show pro-environmental behavior. Given the mixed empirical results regarding the impact of attitudinal measures on environmental behavior, scholars have introduced environmental identity measures as a competing explanatory approach for environmental behavior. They assume that the moral components of acting responsible with regards to the collective good (ecological sustainability) may be better reflected by variables that map the self-identity of conscious and ethical consumers instead of attitudinal measures that reflect mere mental evaluations of objects. Recent evidence on the determinants of consumer behavior suggests that identity measures indeed outperform attitudinal measures in explaining variation in environmental decision making. Our study will operationalize two competing theoretical approaches to measure environmental identity along with traditional measures of environmental attitudes. Environmental decision making will be scrutinized with regards to consumer behavior at farmers markets. Shopping groceries at weekly farmers markets can be considered as an action that provokes effort and is rather disadvantageous compared to shopping at ordinary supermarkets (limited opening hours, restricted product range, no parking, no shopping carts). We will assess whether consumers consider the conditions of shopping at farmers market as rather high-cost and test whether consumer behavior can better be predicted by attitudinal or identity measures. We use data from four waves of the GESIS panel, a probabilistic mixed-mode access panel in Germany. Given the reported explanatory power of the identity measures in multivariate analyses and the lack of applications in the German context, this broadening of the scope will shed a new light on the ongoing theoretical discussion between proponents and opponents of the rational choice framework. Furthermore we can provide empirical evidence whether the concept of identity also works within the German context.