This study investigates whether the claim that environmental attitudes are based on moral reasoning is valid with regard to consumer buying attitudes, as it has been shown to be in other domains of consumer behaviour. It is proposed that two conditions make moral reasoning in the buying situation more likely: environmental concern and the absence of other highly involving characteristics. The paper presents a study of a case with these two characteristics: Danish consumers' choice of environment-friendly packaging. With regard to this case, the evidence supports the claim. A majority of Danish consumers have developed personal norms about choosing environment-friendly packaging and the personal norm is a significant predictor of their (self-reported) propensity to choose environment-friendly packaging in the supermarket (whereas perceived costs have no apparent influence on the choice). It is recommended that attempts to promote this and similar behaviour focus on strengthening consumers' intrinsic motivation and on facilitating its transformation into behaviour.
Journal of Consumer Policy, 1999, Vol 22, Issue 4, p. 439-460