The influence of environmental identity labeling on the uptake of pro-environmental behaviors
In this era of green marketing, consumers can earn the label of being pro-environmental for relatively simple and mundane actions. Researchers and practitioners have raised concerns that highlighting consumer behaviors as green might spill over, therefore increasing (positive spillover) or decreasing (negative spillover) an individual’s propensity to adopt a subsequent pro-environmental behavior (PEB). We report the results of two experimental studies that sought to investigate how labeling a person’s consumer behaviors or preferences as pro-environmental or not influences their decision to engage in a second PEB (donating to an environmental charity). Study 1 found that receiving a green label had no effect on environmental donations. Study 2 revealed that when a respondent’s consumer preferences were labeled as “not green”, they were significantly less likely to donate to an environmental cause relative to the control. We also find evidence that green labels interact with political identity. When Republicans were labeled as green, they were more likely to make an environmental donation than Republicans in the control condition. The donation behaviors of Democrats and Independents were not responsive to the label manipulation. Finally, both studies suggest that pre-existing environmental values are predictive of donation behavior. With additional research, the policy implications of using social labels to encourage PEBs can be better understood.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Eby, B., Carrico, A.R., Truelove, H.B. (2019) The Influence of Environmental Identity Labeling on the Uptake of Pro-Environmental Behaviors. Climatic Change, 155(4), 563-580.