Date of Award

5-2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

College/School

College of Science and Mathematics

Department/Program

Earth and Environmental Studies

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Avinandan Mukherjee

Committee Member

Dibyendu Sakar

Committee Member

Neeraj Vedwan

Committee Member

Yanli Zhang

Committee Member

Gurumurthy Kalyanaram

Subject(s)

Consumer behavior, Ecology--Economic aspects, Goal (Psychology)

Abstract

Human behavior strongly impacts environmental quality. Altering behaviors that significantly affect the well-being of the environment can reduce the impact of human actions in a way that could help overcome environmental deterioration. However, this requires understanding the factors affecting consumer behavior towards acting in a more ecologically conscious manner. Further, the effects of these factors could vary based on the different types of consumer behaviors, such as environmentally sensitive purchase (acquisition), usage, and post-use (disposal) behaviors. The purpose of this dissertation is to analyze the predicting factors of different types of environmentally sensitive consumer behavior by examining the extent to which such behaviors towards ecological well-being are dependent on moral considerations, feelings, or self-interest motives. Study I, using the National Opinion Research Center 2010 General Social Survey data, identified different predictors for five types of environmentally sensitive behaviors, while pointing to the need for more psychological predictors. In Studies II, III, and IV, based on Goal Framing Theory (GFT), the explanatory values of the variables of three theories, Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB), Value-Belief-Norm (VBN), and Theory on Affect (TA), which focus on gain motives, moral concerns, and hedonic motives, respectively, were compared with each other for three different pro-environmental consumer behaviors. The analysis of primary data collected through an online survey using Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) indicate that GFT is an important framework in explaining the ecosensitive purchase, usage, and post-use behaviors of consumers. The findings suggest that values (biospheric, egoistic), environmental concern, awareness of consequences, subjective norms, attitudes towards behavior, affect, and especially intention seemed to be important predictors for all examined behaviors. While variables of the VBN seemed to have the greatest explanatory power for eco-sensitive purchase behavior, variables of the TPB seemed to have the greatest explanatory power for eco-sensitive post-use. Two types of usage behaviors, transportation and household energy use, were mostly explained by variables of the TA. Furthermore, transportation was explained by variables of the VBN. Results obtained from this study are important in developing better intervention strategies in order to alter the relevant environmentally harmful consumer behaviors. Such information will be critical to the development of necessary strategies and expansion of environmentally sensitive purchase, usage, and post-use behaviors.

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