The Positive Side of Negative Labelling

Y.K. van Dam*, J. de Jonge

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Ethical labels signal positive ethical quality of a product but fail to create massive demand for such products. Based on regulatory focus theory and prospect theory, it is argued that negative signalling of low ethical quality would have a stronger effect on the adoption of ethical products than the current positive signalling of high ethical quality. The effect of positive versus negative signalling of high versus low ethical quality on attitude and preference formation is tested in three experimental studies (N=81; N=170; N=177). Results show (1) that negative labelling has more effect on attitude and preference than positive labelling, (2) that the effect of labelling is enhanced by regulatory fit, and (3) that the effect of labelling is mediated by personal norms. No evidence of either mediation or moderation by environmental concern was found.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-38
JournalJournal of Consumer Policy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Consumption
  • Negative labelling
  • Personal norms
  • Regulatory fit
  • Sustainability


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