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Sex, Personality, and Sustainable Consumer Behaviour: Elucidating the Gender Effect

By: Michael Luchs; Todd Mooradian;

2012 / Springer Science+Business Media / 0168-7034


Sustainable consumer behaviour—behaviour motivated or influenced by social and/or environmental considerations—is an important topic in public policy and consumer psychology. Research on the antecedents of sustainable consumer behaviour has found a robust “gender effect”: women are more likely than men to express concern about consumption’s broader impacts and to act upon those concerns. The mechanisms underlying the gender effect have not been well elucidated. At the same time, more limited research has found that sustainable consumer behaviour is also influenced by personality: more agreeable and more open consumers are more likely to place importance on and to act on social and environmental concerns. Separate research in personality psychology has shown that women tend to be more agreeable than men. The authors integrate these findings to propose and test a model in which personality mediates the effect of sex on sustainable consumer behaviour. The personality differences mediating this effect are the same ones elsewhere subsumed within “gender” differences. Our findings clarify the mechanisms underlying the observed sex effect, confirm the utility of personality constructs in clarifying differences in consumer attitudes and behaviours, and have compelling implications for public policy.