Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 125, Issue 4, pp 693–707 | Cite as

Perceived Greenwashing: The Interactive Effects of Green Advertising and Corporate Environmental Performance on Consumer Reactions

  • Gergely Nyilasy
  • Harsha Gangadharbatla
  • Angela Paladino


The current study investigates the effects of green advertising and a corporation’s environmental performance on brand attitudes and purchase intentions. A 3 × 3 (firm’s environmental performance and its advertising efforts as independent variables) experiment using n = 302 subjects was conducted. Results indicate that the negative effect of a firm’s low performance on brand attitudes becomes stronger in the presence of green advertising compared to general corporate advertising and no advertising. Further, when the firm’s environmental performance is high, both green and general corporate advertising result in more unfavorable brand attitudes than no advertising. The study’s counter-intuitive findings are explained by attribution theory.


Greenwashing Environmental messages Green messages Attribution theory Corporate advertising Green advertising 


Conflict of interest

No external organization sponsored this study. Accordingly, there are no potential conflicts of interest to report.

Ethical Standard

This study has been approved by the University of Oregon’s IRB for Human Subjects Research and has been performed in accordance with the ethical standards laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki. All persons gave their informed consent prior to their inclusion in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gergely Nyilasy
    • 1
  • Harsha Gangadharbatla
    • 2
  • Angela Paladino
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Management and MarketingThe University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.School of Journalism and CommunicationUniversity of OregonEugeneUSA

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