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When people are green and greedy : a new perspective of recycling rewards and crowding-out in Germany, the USA and China

  • Previous research reported conflicting results on the effectiveness of economic incentives versus green appeals for promoting pro-environmental behavior and neglected the possibility of combining both as well as country differences. Through online experiments in Germany, the USA and China, we tested a monetary reward for recycling that is only redeemable for eco-friendly products – a “green reward” – in comparison to a standard reward (redeemable for any product) and a green appeal (highlighting environmental impact). In China, green rewards significantly increased recycling intentions via introjected motivation. In the USA, rewards improved intentions mainly via extrinsic motivation. In Germany, green appeals appeared to be the best strategy. Extrinsic rewards are expected to reduce perceived autonomy support, but only did so in the USA. Differences between countries are identified with regard to “crowding-out” of internalized motivation. It appears that under some conditions an environmental purpose can neutralize negative effects of extrinsic incentives.

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Document Type:Article
Author:Xisi Yang, John Thøgersen
Chairs and Professorships:Chair of Marketing Management and Sustainability
Parent Title (English):Journal of Business Research
Year of Completion:2022
First Page:217
Last Page:235
Tag:Autonomy support; Eco-friendly purchase; Economic incentive; Recycling behavior; Self-determination theory
Content Focus:Academic Audience
Peer Reviewed:Yes
Rankings:AJG Ranking / 3
VHB Ranking / B
SJR Ranking / Q1
Licence (German):License LogoUrheberrechtlich geschützt