Behaviour and climate change: Consumer perceptions of responsibility

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Abstract:

This paper explores the under-researched notion of consumer responsibility, a potentially significant influence on consumer behaviour that marketers and policymakers may be able to harness as they attempt to respond to environmental challenges such as climate change. The paper uses data derived from a commercially motivated survey (n = 1513) to explore domestic consumption behaviours most closely associated with the issue of disruptive climate change. A measure of 'General Environmental Responsiveness' (GER) is used to test: (1) the effects of consumers both taking responsibility for their actions and placing responsibility on others for the consequences of their consumption behaviour; and (2) whether sociodemographic variables can aid the targeting of consumers by the level and type of responsibility and pro-environmental behavioural intentions expressed. The study's findings demonstrate clear, if not strong, relationships between consumer conceptions of responsibilities for causing and tackling climate change and environment-related consumer behaviour. The study's implications both challenge accepted wisdom about environment-related consumer behaviour and suggest avenues for future research.

Keywords: climate change; consumer responsibility; environmental responsiveness; sociodemographic variables

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0267257X.2010.500136

Affiliations: 1: Durham Business School, UK 2: Cardiff University, UK

Publication date: July 1, 2011

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