Promoting Sustainable Consumer Behaviour Through the Activation of Injunctive Social Norms: A Field Experiment in 19 Workplace Restaurants

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Research units

  • University of Helsinki


Since production and consumption are co-dependent parts of the same system, businesses often need to complement their production-side sustainability initiatives with accompanying measures aimed at promoting sustainable consumption. As a potential, low-cost measure of steering consumer choice we studied the activation of injunctive social norms by conducting a field experiment (N = 1,289) in 19 workplace restaurants. The aim was to investigate whether the presence and absence of two injunctive norm messages relating to Baltic Sea protection and local food predicted the choice of a novel sustainable dish, roach fish patties. Results of nested analysis of variance and qualitative comparative analysis suggest that while injunctive norm activation was an ineffective measure to steer consumer choice in the overall population, it may have had an impact on smaller subgroups based on sociodemographic characteristics and previous consumption patterns. Furthermore, there was indication of a mutually reinforcing interaction effect when the two injunctive norms were activated in combination.


Original languageEnglish
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Research areas

  • field experiment, food choice, injunctive norms, norm activation, social norms, sustainability, sustainable consumption

ID: 32861140