Thursday, June 9, 2011

Do Green Products Make Us Better People?

Here's the abstract of a recent paper published in the journal Psychological Science:

Do Green Products Make Us Better People?
Nina Mazar and Chen-Bo Zhong

Consumer choices reflect not only price and quality preferences but also social and moral values, as witnessed in the remarkable growth of the global market for organic and environmentally friendly products. Building on recent research on behavioral priming and moral regulation, we found that mere exposure to green products and the purchase of such products lead to markedly different behavioral consequences. In line with the halo associated with green consumerism, results showed that people act more altruistically after mere exposure to green products than after mere exposure to conventional products. However, people act less altruistically and are more likely to cheat and steal after purchasing green products than after purchasing conventional products. Together, our studies show that consumption is connected to social and ethical behaviors more broadly across domains than previously thought.

In a line, the authors found that people who bought green products were more likely to feel entitled to engage in self-interested behavior. Wow!

Discussion questions:  How do you feel after buying green products? More generally, do you behave in ways where you keep track of 'good' things to enable you to do 'bad' things?  (you know, like eat carrots all day so that you can have the cake at night...).  What are the implications of this finding for changing our consumption patterns?

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