I Will Be Green for Us: When Consumers Compensate for Their Partners’ Unsustainable Behavior

Principal Investigator:
Aylin Cakanlar, Stockholm University

Co-Investigators:
Hristina Nikolova, Boston College
Gergana Y. Nenkov, Boston College
Amount: $1,500.00

This research investigates how consumers respond to their partners’ unsustainable choices. In four studies, we recruited married participants and showed them hypothetical or real unsustainable choices their partners made and then measured their likelihood to choose a sustainable option. We demonstrate that how consumers respond to their partner’s unsustainable choices depends on the amount of relationship power they possess. We show that high-relationship power individuals compensate for their partner’s unsustainable behavior by acting in a more sustainable manner relative to their baseline tendencies, but low-relationship power individuals do not increase their own sustainable consumption. This effect occurs because high relationship power partners feel more responsible for the couple’s sustainable identity, and as a result, have stronger desire to signal a positive couple identity. This grant would permit us to conduct additional field studies and design interventions that can encourage consumers to make sustainable choices even after they are exposed to their partners’ unsustainable choices.

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