Understanding of consumer behaviour as a prerequisite for environmental protection

Abstract

A number of the environmental problems threatening our habitat are to a greater or lesser extent caused by present consumer lifestyles. More sustainable lifestyles cannot be obtained without marked changes in consumer attitudes and consumer behaviour. To arrive at a synthesis of what is known, and of what needs to be known, about the determinants of consumer behaviour with an environmental impact, a frame of reference employing three main classes of variables is used: motivation, ability, and opportunity. Apart from surveying the research of others, illustrations are given from studies carried out by the group of researchers at the Aarhus School of Business to which the authors belong; this research has been mainly concerned with waste handling and recycling. In addition, various strategies for changing consumer behaviour in an environment-friendly direction are considered. Information, moral arguments, and economic incentives are discussed as instruments for change. In setting goals for change strategies, broad goals such as heightened psychic and communicative activity in matters of environmental concern ought to be considered as an alternative to the elicitation of very specific behaviours.

Zusammenfassung

Einsicht in das Vehalten von Konsumenten als Voraussetzung für den Schutz derZahlreiche Umweltprobleme, die unsere Lebensgrundlagen bedrohen, werden Umwelt. mehr oder weniger von den Lebensgewohnheiten der Konsumenten verursacht. Lebensstile, die demgegenüber eher als “nachhaltig” gelten können, könen nur durch deutliche Veränderungen im Bereich der Einstellungen und des Verhaltens von Konsumenten erzielt werden.

Der Beitrag liefert eine Zusammenschau dessen, was über die Einflu\faktoren auf das Verbraucherverhalten bekannt ist, soweit es Umweltwirkungen hat, und zeigt ebenso auf, was dazu noch nicht bekannt ist. Als Bezugsrahmen wählt er ein Modell, das Merkmale auf den drei Ebenen Motivation, Fähigkeit und Möglichkeit unterscheidet.

Au\er einem überblick über Forschungsergebnisse, die in der Literatur berichtet werden, schildert der Beitrag auch Ergebnisse der Forschergruppe an der Aarhus School of Business, zu der die beiden Autoren des Beitrages gehören. Diese Ergebnisse beziehen sich in erster Linie auf Abfallverhalten und Wiederverwertung.

Schlie\lich werden verschiedene Strategien zur Veränderung des Verbraucherverhaltens in umweltfreundlicher Richtung behandelt, vor allem Informationen, moralische Argumente und ökonomische Anreize. Bei der Formulierung von Zielen für solche Veränderungen sollten breite Zielsetzungen, wie z.B. gesteigerte psychische und kommunikative Aktivität in Umweltangelegenheiten, als Alternative zur Erreichung sehr spezifischen Verhaltens erwogen werden.

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ölander, F., ThØgersen, J. Understanding of consumer behaviour as a prerequisite for environmental protection. J Consum Policy 18, 345–385 (1995). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01024160

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Keywords

  • Consumer Behaviour
  • Specific Behaviour
  • Economic Incentive
  • Main Classis
  • Change Strategy