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Multi-Product Category Choices Labeled for Ecological Footprints: Exploring Psychographics and Evolved Psychological Biases for Characterizing Latent Consumer Classes

Bodo Steiner (), A.O. Peschel and Carola Grebitus ()

Ecological Economics, 2017, vol. 140, issue C, 251-264

Abstract: This paper explores psychographics and evolved psychological biases to characterize consumer segments regarding pro-environmental choices. Based on survey-evidence from Germany, we analyze consumer preferences for two product categories, a food-staple and a non-food staple, labeled for carbon and water footprints. Latent class analysis is employed to identify and characterize distinct consumer segments as a function of consumers' ‘ecological worldview’, consumer involvement, motivation to attend to product label information, personal values, as well as consumers' environmental group membership and donation behavior. Results suggest that latent segments of ecologically-oriented consumers can be differentiated from price-sensitive segments, with the former appearing less prone to certain evolved psychological biases compared to the latter segments. In contrast to previous work on self-reported ecologically conscious behavior, our results highlight the role of personal values, in particular that of personal health. This is found to be valued less by ecologically-oriented consumers, indicating that such individuals may have a strong communal focus in their value orientation. In terms of policy implications, our findings suggest that sustainability labels can provide valuable and interpretable information to consumers, yet more effective intervention efforts may require a stronger focus on targeted information provision with regard to carbon rather than water footprints.

Keywords: Carbon footprint; Water footprint; Environmental sustainability; Personal values; Germany; Adaptive psychological biases; Latent class analysis (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:140:y:2017:i:c:p:251-264