The gap between consumers saying that they want and selecting sustainable products can be addressed through product design. Our previous research proposed a method for creating visible product features that trigger pro-environmental behavior in consumers, termed sustainability triggers (STs). The study below designed two experiments to mimic real-world decision scenarios and demonstrated that exposure to these STs caused pro-environmental behavior in two test versus control experiments. The experiments used both realistic prototypes and images of toasters. In experiment 1, a qualitative preference-elicitation method demonstrated that exposure to STs increased thoughts of sustainability—related decision criteria. In experiment 2, subjects' prioritization of “hidden” sustainability-related attributes, shipping method and energy usage, was higher if exposed to the STs. This was indicated by choice, information search, importance rating, and eye tracking. Thus, the novel design method to create product STs is demonstrated effective in the test case and has the potential to broadly benefit the success of sustainable products in the market.
Exploring the Effects of a Product's Sustainability Triggers on Pro-Environmental Decision-Making
Contributed by the Design Theory and Methodology Committee of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF MECHANICAL DESIGN. Manuscript received September 9, 2016; final manuscript received September 7, 2017; published online November 10, 2017. Assoc. Editor: Harrison M. Kim.
She, J., and MacDonald, E. F. (November 10, 2017). "Exploring the Effects of a Product's Sustainability Triggers on Pro-Environmental Decision-Making." ASME. J. Mech. Des. January 2018; 140(1): 011102. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.4038252
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