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EMAC 2023 Annual

Understanding the attitude-behaviour gap in sustainable consumption – A systematic literature review

Published: May 24, 2023


Katharina Göring-Lensing-Hebben, WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management; Anna-Karina Schmitz, WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management; Martin Fassnacht, WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management


Regarding sustainability, there is a significant discrepancy between consumers’ stated intentions and the propensity to act accordingly, the so-called attitude-behaviour gap. However, research lacks conceptual clarity in defining this gap and does not sufficiently consider the complexity of the decision-making process and varying purchase situations for sustainable consumption. Drawing on a systematic review of 1,045 academic articles, this research presents a consolidated picture of the attitude-behaviour gap and provides insights on how factors along the decision-making process influence the gap at different times, spaces, and intensities, ultimately narrowing or expanding it. Furthermore, it outlines purchase situations that are relevant to better understand and further explore the attitude-behaviour gap in sustainable consumption. To advance the literature stream, this review highlights conceptual issues and provides directions for future research.