Green consumption behavior is a common pro-environmental behavior in daily life; it refers to the extent to which individuals consider the impact of their own behavior on the environment when they purchase or use products, and refers to them trying to maximize the positive impact, while minimizing the negative impact.1,2 Green consumption behavior is often accompanied with some cost to individuals.3–5 In particular, people must restrain themselves from buying cheaper products that are not environmentally friendly, or spend additional time and incremental effort to restrain their self-interest consumption habits.6,7
Numerous studies have shown that individuals restrain their egoistic and self-interest-oriented desires to benefit others (eg the natural world), which requires a higher-order psychological process, such as self-control.8–11 For example, Baumgartner et al found that the higher the cortical baseline activation in the right lateral prefrontal cortex of the brain involved in cognitive control and self-control processes, the higher the frequency of everyday pro-environmental behavior.11 Moreover, empirical research has shown that pro-environmental attitudes translate into behavior demanding cognitive or psychological resources.10 These findings suggest that individuals’ pro-environmental behavior, such as green consumption behavior, require self-control or psychological resources; however, little is known about the effect of preceding self-control on green consumption behavior. Thus, in Experiment 1, we aimed to explore the effect of exerting self-control on green consumption behavior.
According to the strength model of self-control, self-control comprises limited inner resources, and if exerting self-control depletes them, there are fewer resources available for subsequent tasks, leading to poor performance for subsequent acts of self-control.12–14 Abundant evidence has indicated that individuals in a state of low self-control are prone to engage in impulsive behaviors to satisfy their immediate and self-interest desires—including overeating, crime and violence, smoking, and less prosocial behavior.15–17 For example, Jin et al found that individuals with low self-control allocated less money to the other person, decreasing their prosocial behaviors.15 Therefore, it is possible that performing a self-control task would subsequently decrease green consumption behavior.
Exerting self-control depletes limited psychological resources and may decrease green consumption behavior. However, the busy and overworked lifestyle in modern society and the everyday situations of self-control (eg pursuing a healthy diet, maintaining marriage loyalty, saving money) often leave people in states of low self-control.11,18,19 Thus, it is crucial to explore how to counteract the negative impact of self-control depletions on green consumption behavior. The Broaden-and-Build Theory contends that positive affect broadens the scope of attention and thought-action repertoires and builds personal resources ranging from physical and social resources to intellectual and psychological resources.20–22 Prior research has shown that inducing implicit positive emotion has a restorative effect on self-control resources.23 Moreover, it is worth noting that positive affect can alleviate ego depletion and restore the performance of subsequent self-control tasks by rebuilding or replenishing self-control or depleted psychological resources.24–26 For instance, Shmueli and Prochaska found that positive affect elicited with a video may increase or replenish self-control strength and weaken the detrimental effects of self-control depletion on smoking behavior.27
Importantly, empirical studies (involving prosocial behavior) have indicated that positive emotions moderate the negative relationship between exerting self-control and prosocial …….