The Impact of Implicit Theories on Consumers' Reactions to Recycled Content Products

  • BAE, So Hyun (PI)

    Project: Research project

    Project Details


    Given consumers’ increased awareness of companies’ socially responsible activities, companies have responded by increasingly using recycled materials to manufacture new products. For example, H&M has launched a new line of clothing products made from recycled cotton, while Dell and Samsung have begun to manufacture monitors and smartphone cases with recycled plastics, respectively. Although manufacturing new products by using recycled materials can doubtlessly offer significant benefits to societies by reducing waste and thus protecting the natural environment, important questions nevertheless arise. For one, is every consumer willing to buy products made with recycled content? If not, then who is less willing to buy those products and why? Answering such questions is critical for companies and policymakers in order to encourage more consumers to buy products made from recycled material.

    Previous research on the consumption of recycled content products has found that perceived quality significantly determines consumers’ resistance to purchase such products. However, very limited research has been conducted to understand factors that influence consumers’ perception of and thus reactions to those products. To fill that gap, in this research we propose that implicit theories influence consumers’ perception of the quality of recycled content products and thereby affect their reactions to those products. Since consumers extend their implicit theories to understand others as well as marketing entities (e.g., brands), it is possible to predict that they might use those theories to evaluate products made with recycled materials as well. Because recycled materials used to be waste, entity theorists, who argue the fixedness of traits, might believe that waste, with its essential traits of uselessness and valuelessness, cannot be converted to usable material through a recycling process. By extension, their belief about fixed traits is apt to make them more likely to underestimate the quality of products made from recycled materials. By contrast, incremental theorists, who argue the malleability of traits, might believe that waste can indeed be converted into usable material via recycling. As such, they are liable to be less likely than entity theorists to underestimate the quality of products made from recycled content and thereby show more positive reactions to those products. Regarding the mechanism of perceived quality, we further propose that the effect of implicit theories on consumers’ reactions to recycled content products will be moderated by two factors: firm size and feature centrality.
    Effective start/end date1/01/1830/06/20


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