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Sustainable Consumption and the Attitude-Behaviour-Gap Phenomenon - Causes and Measurements towards a Sustainable Development

  • The phenomenon of the deviation between purchase attitudes and actual buying behaviour of responsible consumers is called the attitude-behaviour gap. It is influenced by individual, social and situational factors. The main purchasing barriers for sustainable (organic) food are price, lack of immediate availability, sensory criteria, lack or overload of information as well as the low-involvement feature of food products in conjunction with well-established consumption routines, lack of transparency and trust towards labels and certifications. The last three barriers are mainly of a psychological nature. Especially the low-involvement feature of food products due to daily purchase routines and relatively low prices tends to result in fast, automatic and subconscious decisions based on a so-called human mental system 1, derived from Daniel Kahneman’s (Nobel-Prize laureate in Behavioural Economics) model in behavioural psychology. In contrast, the human mental system 2 is especially important for the transformations of individual behaviour towards a more sustainable consumption. Decisions based on the human mental system 2 are slow, logical, rational, conscious and arduous. This so-called dual action model also influences the reliability of responses in consumer surveys. It seems that the consumer behaviour is the most unstable and unpredictable part of the entire supply chain and requires special attention. Concrete measures to influence consumer behaviour towards sustainable consumption are highly complex. Reviews of interdisciplinary research literature on behavioural psychology, behavioural economics and consumer behaviour and an empirical analysis of selected countries worldwide with a view to sustainable food are presented. The example of Denmark serves as a ‘best practice’ case study to illustrate how sustainable food consumption can be encouraged. It demonstrates that common efforts and a shared responsibility of consumers, business, interdisciplinary researchers, mass media and policy are needed. It takes pioneers of change who succeed in assembling a ‘critical mass’ willing to increase its ‘sustainable’ behaviour. Considering the strong psychological barriers of consumers and the continuing low market share of organic food, proactive policy measures would be conducive to foster the personal responsibility of the consumers and offer incentives towards a sustainable production. Also, further self-obligations of companies (Corporate Social Responsibility – CSR) as well as more transparency and simplification of reliable labels and certifications are needed to encourage the process towards a sustainable development.

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Metadaten
Document Type:Article
Language:English
Parent Title (English):Int. J. Food System Dynamics (International Journal on Food System Dynamics)
Volume:6
Issue:3
First Page:159
Last Page:174
ISSN:1869-6945
URN:urn:nbn:de:hbz:1044-opus-16983
DOI:https://doi.org/10.18461/ijfsd.v6i3.634
Publisher:CentMA
Place of publication:Bonn
Date of first publication:2015/07/16
Tag:CSR; Responsible consumer; behavioural economics; consumer behaviour; corporate social responsibility; dual action model
Departments, institutes and facilities:Fachbereich Wirtschaftswissenschaften
Internationales Zentrum für Nachhaltige Entwicklung (IZNE)
Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC):1 Philosophie und Psychologie / 17 Ethik / 178 Konsumethik
3 Sozialwissenschaften / 30 Sozialwissenschaften, Soziologie / 303 Gesellschaftliche Prozesse
Entry in this database:2015/08/21
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - CC BY-NC - Namensnennung - Nicht kommerziell 4.0 International