Cognitive and Motivational Structure of Sustainability

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35 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper the cognitive and motivational perceptual structure of sustainability of light users of sustainable products are empirically compared to the Brundlandt definition and the Triple-P-Baseline definition of sustainability. Results show that light users cognitively can distinguish between the social and temporal dimensions of the Brundlandt definition, as well as the people, planet and prosperity dimensions of the Triple-P definition of sustainability. In the motivational structure of light users of sustainable products, all attributes that do not offer direct and personal benefits are collapsed into a single dimension. This single dimension explains purchases more parsimoniously than a more complex structure, and is itself explained by a set of psychographic predictors that appears to be related to identity. Theoretical implications are that research into consumers’ cognitive understanding of abstract constructs may fail to predict purchase behaviour of light users, because their motivational structure is not related to this understanding. Practical implications are that focusing on sustainability as a container construct that incorporates various approaches to sustainable development matches with motivations of light users and thus may induce them to purchase more sustainable products
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)726-741
JournalJournal of Economic Psychology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • multiple group method
  • buyers purchasing motives
  • goal-derived categories
  • end chains analysis
  • redundancy analysis
  • environmental behavior
  • canonical correlation
  • future generations
  • value orientations
  • decision-making

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