Understanding intentions to purchase bio-based products: The role of subjective ambivalence

Marleen C. Onwezen*, Machiel J. Reinders, Siet J. Sijtsema

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


This article aims to explore whether subjective ambivalence increases the understanding of consumers' intentions to buy bio-based products. Subjective ambivalence is the aversive feeling that accompanies evaluations containing both negative and positive elements. Two studies (N = 1851) in six European countries show that subjective ambivalence increases the explained variance beyond vested exploratory variables: emotions and variables of the theory of planned behaviour. This finding implies that the intention to purchase bio-based products is based on more than cognitive deliberations or emotions; it is also associated with an aversive feeling of subjective ambivalence. Additionally, this article divides attitudes into risks and benefits associated with bio-based products and thereby shows that subjective ambivalence strengthens the association between risks and intentions and not that between benefits and intentions. Highly ambivalent consumers are more sensitive to risks than less ambivalent consumers, whereas for the sensitivity to benefits there are no differences between individuals with high and low ambivalence. In conclusion, to understand public opinion regarding bio-based products, it is important to comprehensively monitor and understand ambivalence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-36
JournalJournal of Environmental Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Benefit
  • Bio-based product
  • Emotion
  • Intention
  • Risk
  • Subjective ambivalence
  • Sustainability and consumer

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