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Habitual and value-guided consumer behaviour.

Conference paper
Authors Anders Biel
Ulf Dahlstrand
Published in Paper presented at the 14th General Meeting of EAESP, Würtzburg, Germany, 19-23 July 2005
Publication year 2005
Published at Department of Psychology
Language en
Keywords Habits, values, priming, pro-environmental behaviour
Subject categories Psychology


Consumer behaviour may be more or less guided by deliberate processes. In a deliberate phase, people are more attentive to, and, given the right circumstances, more influenced by values in their choice of products. When in a less deliberate phase consumers may fall back on habits and choose in a routine manner. This prediction was tested in a computer-based experiment, where participants purchased products in a simulated shop. They were randomly assigned to one of eight groups defined by whether they purchased under time pressure or not, whether an environmental value was primed or not, and whether ”organic food”-labels were salient or not. A discreetly placed “organic food”-poster at the entrance of the store was used to prime, or unobtrusively remind the consumer of an environmental value. Participants were unaware of this manipulation. As predicted, time pressure increased the likelihood of a habitual choice (as measured in a questionnaire) and inhibited directly value-guided choices. In addition, the poster, in combination with salient “organic food”-labels on the products, increased the likelihood of a choice directly guided by environmental values, but only under no time pressure.

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