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The interpersonal determinants of green purchasing: an assessment of the empirical record

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This study investigates how well prominent behavioral theories from social psychology explain green purchasing behavior (GPB). I assess three prominent theories in terms of their suitability for GPB research, their

This study investigates how well prominent behavioral theories from social psychology explain green purchasing behavior (GPB). I assess three prominent theories in terms of their suitability for GPB research, their attractiveness to GPB empiricists, and the strength of their empirical evidence when applied to GPB. First, a qualitative assessment of the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB), Norm Activation Theory (NAT), and Value-Belief-Norm Theory (VBN) is conducted to evaluate a) how well the phenomenon and concepts in each theory match the characteristics of pro-environmental behavior and b) how well the assumptions made in each theory match common assumptions made in purchasing theory. Second, a quantitative assessment of these three theories is conducted in which r2 values and methodological parameters (e.g., sample size) are collected from a sample of 21 empirical studies on GPB to evaluate the accuracy and generalize-ability of empirical evidence. In the qualitative assessment, the results show each theory has its advantages and disadvantages. The results also provide a theoretically-grounded roadmap for modifying each theory to be more suitable for GPB research. In the quantitative assessment, the TPB outperforms the other two theories in every aspect taken into consideration. It proves to 1) create the most accurate models 2) be supported by the most generalize-able empirical evidence and 3) be the most attractive theory to empiricists. Although the TPB establishes itself as the best foundational theory for an empiricist to start from, it's clear that a more comprehensive model is needed to achieve consistent results and improve our understanding of GPB. NAT and the Theory of Interpersonal Behavior (TIB) offer pathways to extend the TPB. The TIB seems particularly apt for this endeavor, while VBN does not appear to have much to offer. Overall, the TPB has already proven to hold a relatively high predictive value. But with the state of ecosystem services continuing to decline on a global scale, it's important for models of GPB to become more accurate and reliable. Better models have the capacity to help marketing professionals, product developers, and policy makers develop strategies for encouraging consumers to buy green products.

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  • 2012