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How consumer perception affects sustainable behaviors: The moderating role of perceived consumer effectiveness and perceived difficulty
Striving for circular economy requires many essential changes in ways of handling with todays economic problems. To be successful in achieving sustainability goals such a transition needs to occur not only in global, macroeconomic scale, but also in everyday activities of individual consumers. It is sustainable consumer behaviour understood as the manifestation of sustainable consumption in microeconomic scale what constitutes our core interest. Although sustainable behaviour challenges individuals all over the world both the motivators of these behaviours and their obstacles are different and may differ depending on the stage of economic development of certain country. It seems to be obvious that in developing countries sustainable behaviours or a lack of such are primarily driven by objective factors connected with financial or infrastructural shortages. Thus, majority of research aiming at disclosing not only objective incentives and barriers, but also psychological factors has been conducted in affluent countries, and the number of research projects in this field additionally increased since the attitude-behaviour gap was revealed. So far, the abovementioned direction of scientific inquiry has aroused comparatively small interest of researchers from Eastern European countries like Poland. Meanwhile, a fast economic development in the last years and still lower living standard in comparison to Western Europe make these countries an interesting arena for searching and explaining psychologically rooted mechanisms which condition the wider spreading of sustainable behaviours. The main objective of this article is to explain the role of two psychological factors connected with human perception, i.e. perceived consumer effectiveness (PCE) and perceived difficulty (PD) in the process of forming sustainable behaviour. The first one has been already identified in English-language literature as an incentive playing significant role in environmentally conscious behaviours while the second one has gained less research interest. To achieve assumed goal, we intend to make use of the outcomes of quantitative research (online survey) conducted in 2016 among 1112 Polish consumers and supplement them by the outcomes of ongoing quantitative research (current research project is to be finished in the first quarter of 2019). The data gathered in 2016 have been already analysed by using statistical methods like exploratory principal component analysis (PCA) with Varimax rotation, and multiple regression analysis. It enabled us to disclose an existence of relationship between independent variables (i.e. perceived consumer effectiveness and perceived difficulty) and dependent variable (a frequency of sustainable behaviours), and in consequence to describe a character of such relationship. In particular the outcomes show that perceived difficulty is concerned as an obstacle to Poles’ sustainable behaviours while perceived consumer effectiveness fosters their sustainable behaviours. Furthermore, PCE effects the frequency of different types of sustainable behaviours to the greater extent than PD. We expect that the information which will be collect during current research will deliver a deeper understanding of these problems in case of frugal/nonconsumption behaviours which had been identified by us as the most popular type of sustainable behaviours among Polish consumers.