Proud to limit the damage: Negatively framed eco-ratings motivate green intentions through anticipated pride

Karen Gorissen, Berre Deltomme, Bert Weijters, Hans Baumgartner

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Assessing the environmental (un)sustainability of products appears to be a complex task for consumers, and despite the growing number of eco-information schemes, their effectiveness leaves room for improvement. Eco-ratings (e.g., quantify the environmental (un)sustainability of products in a given choice set or assortment in a standardized way, using a predefined score range (e.g., from 1 to 5) with ordinal or interval measurement level. Since eco-ratings do not have a one-to-one relation to a quantifiable physical reality (e.g., CO2 emissions), their framing direction is essentially arbitrary: in a five-point eco-rating one could frame the scores positively (e.g., 1 = not environmentally friendly, 5 = very environmentally friendly) or negatively (e.g., 1 = very damaging for the environment, 5 = not damaging for the environment). Based on three experiments, we find that negative (vs. positive) framing of eco-ratings increases the choice likelihood of the most ecological option from a choice set (Study 1). Moreover, eco-ratings positively affect anticipated pride, which in turn has a positive effect on purchase intention, and the effect of eco-ratings on pride is stronger when eco-ratings are negatively framed (studies 2a and 2b). In other words, emphasizing that a product is less damaging to the environment, rather than more environmentally friendly, relative to other products, increases the anticipation of pride and leads to stronger intentions to buy more environmentally sustainable products. Apart from the theoretical contributions, this paper has important practical implications for the communication of the environmental (un)sustainability of products.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102290
JournalJournal of Environmental Psychology
StatePublished - Jun 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

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