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EMAC 2023 Regional Conference

Climate change, need frustration, and consumer responses

Published: November 22, 2023


Camilla Barbarossa, Toulouse Business School; Maria Carmen Di Poce, Sapienza University of Rome; Alberto Pastore, Sapienza University of Rome


Consumers today live under the menace of climate change. They respond to this menace based on the type of needs that climate change frustrates. Adopting a need frustration perspective, we investigate the needs climate change frustrates and the downstream self-protective response strategies consumers develop. Using a mixed-method approach, we find that climate change majorly frustrates immediate physiological and safety needs, posing an existential threat to consumers (Study 1). A higher existential threat activates flight responses (Study 2), especially when consumers perceive themselves as having a low impact on climate change (Study 3). Flight responses relating to emotions of fear and anxiety stimulate emotion regulation consumption (hedonic overconsumption) among consumers with low self-control (Study 4).