Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 144, Issue 2, pp 401–415 | Cite as

Gray Shades of Green: Causes and Consequences of Green Skepticism

  • Constantinos N. Leonidou
  • Dionysis Skarmeas


Consumer skepticism of corporate environmental activities is on the rise. Yet research on this timely, intriguing, and important topic is scarce for both academics and practitioners. Building on attribution theory, we develop and test a theoretically anchored model that explains the sources and consequences of green skepticism. The study findings reveal that consumers’ perceptions of industry norms, corporate social responsibility, and corporate history are important factors that explain why consumers assign different motives to corporate environmental actions. In addition, the results show that while intrinsic motives exert a strong negative effect on green skepticism, extrinsic motives have no discernible effect. Furthermore, the findings indicate that green skepticism prompts consumers to seek more information about the products, sparks negative word of mouth to friends and acquaintances, and forestalls purchase intentions. The study offers several implications for corporate and public policy makers and presents fruitful research directions.


Attribution theory Green skepticism Information seeking Negative WOM Purchase intentions Sustainability 



The authors thank Constantine S. Katsikeas and Matthew Robson, University of Leeds, for their constructive comments and suggestions on previous versions of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Leeds University Business SchoolUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK
  2. 2.Athens University of Economics and BusinessAthensGreece

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