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EMAC 2022 Annual

The psychological conflict loop of sustainable consumption: A systematic literature review and research agenda

Published: May 24, 2022


Marta Pizzetti, emLyon Business School; diletta acuti, University of Portsmouth


Sustainable consumption is recognized as one of the driving forces of sustainable development. Although scholars acknowledge the importance to facilitate sustainable consumption, the literature is mainly focused on demonstrating that sustainability has positive effects on consumer behaviour, neglecting the possibility of negative side-effects that affect the consumer. By systematically reviewing 87 scientific articles, we identify negative emotions and perceptions of consumers that impede their sustainable purchase and consumption and negatively affect their wellbeing. We organise these negative side-effects in an integrative framework that captures the current status of the literature on the topic. We found that the consumer is trapped in a psychological conflict loop that impedes sustainable consumption. We provide scholars with potential avenues for future research to identify potential breaking points along the psychological loop and revert the consumer towards a more sustainable pattern.