Mental representation changes the evaluation of green product benefits

Kelly Goldsmith, George E. Newman, Ravi Dhar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Although campaigns designed to promote pro-environmental behaviours increasingly highlight self-interest, recent research suggests that such appeals may not always be effective. For example, individuals are more likely to check their tyre pressure when prompted with self-transcendent (that is, benefits to the environment) versus economic motives; and, self-transcendent appeals are more likely to promote recycling behaviours than self-interested appeals. The present experiments identify an important psychological factor that helps to explain when highlighting economic benefits will be more or less effective in encouraging pro-environmental behaviours. Specifically, we demonstrate that highlighting economic benefits (for example, the money a consumer can save) reduces consumer interest in sustainable products when individuals are in more abstract mindsets compared with when the evaluation is more immediate (that is, their mindset is more concrete). Further, we provide evidence that this shift in interest is driven by the lack of 'fit' between abstract thinking and economic motivations, in the context of pro-environmental behaviour.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)847-850
Number of pages4
JournalNature Climate Change
Issue number9
StatePublished - Aug 25 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Mental representation changes the evaluation of green product benefits'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this