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Lifestyle practices and pro-environmental technology


  • Axsen, Jonn
  • TyreeHageman, Jennifer
  • Lentz, Andy


We explore sociological concepts of lifestyle practices as they relate to sustainable consumption. Specifically, we investigate how and why consumers may transition toward adopting and using new pro-environmental technologies (PETs), namely electric vehicles, solar panels, and a green electricity program. We build a conceptual framework from lifestyle theory, where lifestyle is defined as a grouping of related practices that can reflect and inform the consumer's self-concept (or identity). We apply this framework using a novel quantitative survey method, implemented with a representative sample of 711 San Diego households. Through factor analysis, we identify engagement in pro-environmental practices as independent of engagement in other lifestyle types. We then group respondents into five clusters based on lifestyle engagement, attitudes and openness to lifestyle change (liminality). The three clusters with green attitudes (“greens”) vary substantially by interest in PETs. “Engaged” and “aspiring” greens are attracted to all three PETs, while “low-tech” greens report mild interest in green electricity only. Non-green “techies” only report interest in solar panels, while “traditionalists” report uniformly low PET interest. Results demonstrate the relevance of lifestyle theory, and provide a unique, empirical application that can improve understandings of opportunities and barriers to sustainable consumption.

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  • Axsen, Jonn & TyreeHageman, Jennifer & Lentz, Andy, 2012. "Lifestyle practices and pro-environmental technology," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 64-74.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:82:y:2012:i:c:p:64-74
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2012.07.013

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Green, Erin H. & Skerlos, Steven J. & Winebrake, James J., 2014. "Increasing electric vehicle policy efficiency and effectiveness by reducing mainstream market bias," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 562-566.
    2. Wenbo Li & Ruyin Long & Hong Chen & Feiyu Chen & Xiao Zheng & Muyi Yang, 2019. "Effect of Policy Incentives on the Uptake of Electric Vehicles in China," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(12), pages 1-20, June.
    3. Zierler, Rupert & Wehrmeyer, Walter & Murphy, Richard, 2017. "The energy efficiency behaviour of individuals in large organisations: A case study of a major UK infrastructure operator," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 38-49.
    4. Gunnar Gutsche, 2019. "Individual and Regional Christian Religion and the Consideration of Sustainable Criteria in Consumption and Investment Decisions: An Exploratory Econometric Analysis," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 157(4), pages 1155-1182, July.
    5. Sovacool, Benjamin K. & Axsen, Jonn, 2018. "Functional, symbolic and societal frames for automobility: Implications for sustainability transitions," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 730-746.
    6. Michelsen, Carl Christian & Madlener, Reinhard, 2011. "Homeowners' Motivation to Adopt a Residential Heating System: A Principal-Component Analysis," FCN Working Papers 17/2011, E.ON Energy Research Center, Future Energy Consumer Needs and Behavior (FCN), revised Jan 2013.
    7. Brooks, Jeremy S. & Wilson, Charlie, 2015. "The influence of contextual cues on the perceived status of consumption-reducing behavior," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 108-117.
    8. Thøgersen, John, 2017. "Housing-related lifestyle and energy saving: A multi-level approach," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 73-87.
    9. Mohamed, Moataz & Higgins, Chris & Ferguson, Mark & Kanaroglou, Pavlos, 2016. "Identifying and characterizing potential electric vehicle adopters in Canada: A two-stage modelling approach," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 100-112.
    10. Almeida Neves, Sónia & Cardoso Marques, António & Alberto Fuinhas, José, 2019. "Technological progress and other factors behind the adoption of electric vehicles: Empirical evidence for EU countries," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 28-39.
    11. Axsen, Jonn & Bailey, Joseph & Castro, Marisol Andrea, 2015. "Preference and lifestyle heterogeneity among potential plug-in electric vehicle buyers," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 190-201.
    12. Bailey, Joseph & Axsen, Jonn, 2015. "Anticipating PEV buyers’ acceptance of utility controlled charging," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 29-46.
    13. Petrovich, Beatrice & Hille, Stefanie Lena & Wüstenhagen, Rolf, 2019. "Beauty and the budget: A segmentation of residential solar adopters," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 164(C), pages 1-1.
    14. Ratchaneekorn Dansirichaisawat, 2014. "Discovering Environmental Attitude and Lifestyle Segmentation of Green Consumers: a Conceptual Model for Research," Journal of Social and Development Sciences, AMH International, vol. 5(2), pages 102-110.
    15. Maxim Alexandru, 2013. "Methodological Considerations Regarding The Segmentation Of Household Energy Consumers," Annals of Faculty of Economics, University of Oradea, Faculty of Economics, vol. 1(1), pages 1775-1785, July.
    16. Thøgersen, John, 2018. "Transport-related lifestyle and environmentally-friendly travel mode choices: A multi-level approach," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 166-186.
    17. Axsen, Jonn & Orlebar, Caroline & Skippon, Stephen, 2013. "Social influence and consumer preference formation for pro-environmental technology: The case of a U.K. workplace electric-vehicle study," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 96-107.
    18. Higueras-Castillo, Elena & Kalinic, Zoran & Marinkovic, Veljko & Liébana-Cabanillas, Francisco J., 2020. "A mixed analysis of perceptions of electric and hybrid vehicles," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 136(C).
    19. Axsen, Jonn, 2014. "Citizen acceptance of new fossil fuel infrastructure: Value theory and Canada׳s Northern Gateway Pipeline," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 255-265.
    20. White, Lee V. & Sintov, Nicole D., 2017. "You are what you drive: Environmentalist and social innovator symbolism drives electric vehicle adoption intentions," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 94-113.
    21. Li, Wenbo & Long, Ruyin & Chen, Hong & Geng, Jichao, 2017. "A review of factors influencing consumer intentions to adopt battery electric vehicles," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 318-328.
    22. Jalas, Mikko & Juntunen, Jouni K., 2015. "Energy intensive lifestyles: Time use, the activity patterns of consumers, and related energy demands in Finland," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 51-59.
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    24. Wan, M. & Toppinen, A. & Chen, J., 2014. "Consumers’ environmental awareness towards children’s furniture in Shanghai and Shenzhen, China," 2014, Number 45, May 22-24, 2014, Uppsala, Sweden, Scandinavian Forest Economics: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Scandinavian Society of Forest Economics, vol. 2014(45), pages 1-9, December.
    25. Mohamed, Moataz & Higgins, Christopher D. & Ferguson, Mark & Réquia, Weeberb J., 2018. "The influence of vehicle body type in shaping behavioural intention to acquire electric vehicles: A multi-group structural equation approach," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 54-72.


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