Consumers, Citizens, and Environmental Information

My research has a significant consumer preferences component, as I am not only interested in the implications of information-based programs for institutions, but also for individuals, as both consumers and citizens.  Do they view the multiplicity of “green” claims in the marketplace as overwhelming or empowering?  What types of information are most credible and helpful for consumers while researching a product or at the point of sale?  How can this information be delivered to them in more effective and credible ways?  I am using conjoint analysis-based consumer interviews and online surveys in my dissertation research to explore these questions, and plan to continue this research in the future.  Much of the discussion about eco-labels is often quite simplistic – they are either a wonderful panacea that empowers consumers or terrible greenwashing that confuses them.  But the reality is likely to be much more complicated – sometimes it empowers, sometimes it confuses – and I want to help illuminate some of that complexity.  Understanding how self-identification as a “green consumer” and a “green citizen” differ and may moderate individual responsiveness and engagement is a particularly important topic I wish to pursue.  My goal is to not only contribute to the academic literature on environmental preferences, but also conceptualize and develop new ways for individuals, as both consumers and citizens, to have more ownership and understanding of the sea of information available to them.

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