The effect of objective self-awareness and priming on environmental and ethical behavioral intentions

Open Access
Pan, Yuyuan
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Lisa Elizabeth Bolton, Thesis Supervisor
  • Jennifer Chang Coupland, Honors Advisor
  • sustainability
  • consumer behavior
  • ethics
  • environment
  • priming
Sustainability and social responsibility have become the center of attention in many business corporations. Instead of focusing solely on selling products, companies are increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of their products and desire to drive positive social changes. From a marketing perspective, one way to accomplish this goal is through encouraging consumers to engage in environmental friendly and ethical actions. The present research investigates how self-awareness (focusing attention on the self) and priming (prior exposure to a stimulus) affect consumers’ intentions to engage in such behaviors. I theorize that the interplay of both factors will be especially impactful: self-awareness should increase self-evaluation and lead to more ideal behaviors, especially when guided by an environmental or ethical prime. However, an experiment revealed mixed support: self-awareness had non-significant effects while priming appeared to backfire and undermine environmental and ethical behavioral intentions. The implications of these findings for future research and the marketplace are then discussed.