Communicated and attributed motives for sustainability initiatives in the energy industry: The role of regulatory compliance

Anne Marie van Prooijen*, Jos BARTELS, Timo Meester

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Environmental regulations can significantly impact the extent to which companies in the energy industry implement sustainable practices. Nevertheless, little is known how consumers respond to companies that openly acknowledge this motivation. The current study focused on the effects of communicating a combination of environmental and non-environmental motives for investing in sustainability initiatives on consumer attributions. It was tested whether the acknowledgment of legal motives would differently affect attributions than the acknowledgment of financial motives in messages in which environmental motives were also expressed. An experiment was conducted using a 2 (legal motive: absent vs. present) by 2 (financial motive: absent vs. present) design. Results showed that acknowledging a legal or a financial motive both reduced intrinsic attributions for the sustainability initiatives. However, only the acknowledgment of a financial motive increased extrinsic attributions. These findings suggest that communicating regulatory compliance motivations for implementing a sustainability initiative has fewer negative implications for the perceived sincerity of the company than communicating corporate benefits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1015-1024
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Consumer Behaviour
Volume20
Issue number5
Early online date13 Nov 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

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