This paper analyses the possible spreading of environmentally friendly behaviours to more and more areas of the consumption pattern as well as possible conditions for such a tendency. The conditions in focus are individuals' possession of certain attitudes or values and the degree to which product or behavioural categories share the same environmentally relevant characteristics. As regards the spreading issue, the cross-sectional and the time-series evidence from this study point in opposite directions. There are no clear signs of environment-friendly behaviour spreading to more areas of the consumption pattern over time. Here, the overwhelming evidence points towards stability rather than change. On the other hand, the cross-sectional evidence indicates that under the right conditions consumers tend to be consistent in their propensity to shop in an environment-friendly way. Hence, it follows that environment-friendly behaviour must have spread between different areas of the consumption pattern when these conditions were present. The conditions identified to influence consistency - and, hence, spread or spillover of a propensity to shop in an environment-friendly way - are perceived environmental relevance, common characteristics (i.e., perceived similarity) between areas, environmental concern, and an inclination to denial (negative influence). Implications are discussed.
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Conference on the use of GfK Household Panel Data in Social Science Research, Zentrum für Umfragen, Methoden und Analysen (ZUMA), 1999