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.

dx.doi.org/10.1002/cb.1907, hdl.handle.net/1765/131263
Journal of Consumer Behaviour
Department of Media and Communication

van Prooijen, A-M, Bartels, J., & Meester, T. (2020). Communicated and attributed motives for sustainability initiatives in the energy industry: The role of regulatory compliance (in press). Journal of Consumer Behaviour. doi:10.1002/cb.1907