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Type: Thesis
Title: Conflict in the Consumer Identity: The Coexistence and Consequences of Environmental Identity and Material Identity
Author: Lake, William
Issue Date: 2019
School/Discipline: Business School
Abstract: While consumer research has commonly considered how identities influence consumer behaviour, there has been little research that considers how conflicting identities within the same individual influence their consumer behaviours. As such, there is significant scope for research examining how ideologically conflicting identities within a consumer influence their behaviour aligning with these respective identities. To understand how conflicting identities influence consumption behaviour, this research considers the two higher-level identity standards of environmental identity (EID) and material identity (MID), where consumers with an EID feel a connection with and perceive importance in the natural environment, while consumers with a MID perceive importance in consumerist pursuits and material acquisition. Here, an EID is argued to guide an individual towards pro-environmental avenues of behaviour, while a MID will guide them towards consumerist avenues of behaviour. With the inherent conflict between the underlying ideologies around environmentalism and materialism, the coexistence of these identities will lead to conflicting meaning being presented to consumers. This research seeks to understand the coexistence between EID and MID within consumers, and their subsequent guidance towards pro-environmental and consumerist avenues of behaviour. Data was collected using an online survey that also applied experimentally manipulated mortality salience and measured chronic regulatory focus to understand how they influence the relationship between EID and MID. Willingness to sacrifice to protect the environment, intentions toward voluntary simplification, compulsive buying and status consumption were also included to examine how the interaction between EID and MID influences guidance towards these behaviours. Following confirmation of validity and reliability within the measurement constructs, Partial Least Squares Structural Equation Modelling (PLS-SEM) was applied to test the hypotheses. Findings showed that there was no relationship between EID ii and MID, despite their conflicting ideologies. However, results also showed chronic prevention focus moderated the relationship between EID and MID, where a positive relationship was seen among those with a low chronic prevention focus, and a negative relationship among those with a high chronic prevention focus. Furthermore, within the control condition, a positive relationship was seen between EID and MID that was not seen among those with experimentally induced mortality salience. It was also shown that while MID had the ability to negatively moderate the guidance of EID, EID had no effect upon the guidance of MID, suggesting that a MID is dominant in guiding the self over EID. This research contributes to our understanding of identity theory by showing that these identities can coexist within the self, and this is more likely among individuals with a low chronic prevention focus and without mortality salience. This coexistence is argued to relate to social forces that internalise environmental and materialistic ideals, in combination with consumers compartmentalising and selectively applying meaning from these identities to avoid the perception of conflict. Further, this research demonstrated that consumers with a chronic prevention focus will be more likely to recognise this conflict and have a reduced likelihood for coexistence between EID and MID. Finally, by showing the dominance of MID over EID in its ability to guide the self, this research provided practical implications for marketers who wish to encourage more sustainable consumption behaviours.
Advisor: Rao Hill, Sally
Conduit, Jodie
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, Business School, 2019
Keywords: Consumer Research
Identity Theory
Identity Conflict
Environmental Identity
Material Identity
Regulatory Focus Theory
Mortality Salience
Provenance: This electronic version is made publicly available by the University of Adelaide in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. This thesis may incorporate third party material which has been used by the author pursuant to Fair Dealing exceptions. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material you wish to be removed from this electronic version, please complete the take down form located at:
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