Consuming beyond survival: an evolutionary approach to sustainable consumption

Danielle Eiseman, Iain Black, Katherine Sang

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Abstract

This paper aims to further extend sustainable consumption research beyond value-based models for identifying behavioural intentions as these have met with mixed results. Considering the range of internal and external factors affecting choice, it looks to examine the role of an individual’s status in consumption decisions as what we consume has been identified as an important element in how we manage our social position. Within evolutionary psychology, the individual is identified as a decision maker, motivated to manage their status by navigating social hierarchies in a strategic way and where the tactics that are available and most attractive are shaped through social norms and structures. What remains unclear is a full understanding of the relationship between strategies for navigating these hierarchies, the associated tactics and how and when they are used. The following work briefly explores current practice in promoting sustainable consumption and presents a conceptual framework for examining sustainable consumption as a means of increasing status. This paper concludes that status strategies embody a pivotal role on consumption,
thus a better understanding of them is essential to promoting sustainable consumption. Examining the widespread culture of consumption from this perspective enhances the understanding of the increasing desire to consume as a means to signal status among peers and identifies possible behavioural interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jul 2015
Event21st International Sustainable Development Research Society Conference - Deakin University, Geelong, Australia
Duration: 10 Jul 201512 Jul 2015

Conference

Conference21st International Sustainable Development Research Society Conference
Abbreviated titleISDRS 2015
CountryAustralia
CityGeelong
Period10/07/1512/07/15
OtherTipping Point: Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity

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Eiseman, D., Black, I., & Sang, K. (2015). Consuming beyond survival: an evolutionary approach to sustainable consumption. Paper presented at 21st International Sustainable Development Research Society Conference, Geelong, Australia.