Using psychological distance in design to foster acceptance of sustainable innovations

Lise Magnier, Ruth Mugge, Jan Schoormans

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientific


Little is known about how to foster consumers’ acceptance of sustainable packaging innovations such as recycled packaging. Drawing from the construal level theory, we propose that presenting a sustainable solution for packaging as close to individuals will lead to a more concrete construal of the packaging environmental sustainability and in turn enhance individuals’ perceptions of
prosocial benefits. To test this, we used a between-subject experiment in which we compared spatial distances (i.e. the location where the plastic was reclaimed from) integrated in a package of dishwashing soap (no distance condition vs. close condition vs. far condition). One hundred and thirty participants were presented with one of the three packages and asked to rate the concreteness of
packaging environmental sustainability as well as the prosocial benefits related to the packaging. Results showed that the environmental sustainability of the packaging in the close condition was perceived as more concrete than in the no distance and the far conditions. Moreover, the package made of plastic reclaimed from a close location evoked more prosocial benefits when no location was mentioned and when it was reclaimed from a far location. Finally, concreteness of packaging environmental sustainability mediated the relationship between the close distance integrated in the recycled package and the prosocial benefits. This paper contributes in two ways by investigating how
package design can help to enhance the acceptance of more sustainable packaging and by applying the construal level theory to the field of packaging design.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 28th IAPRI Symposium on Packaging 2017
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event28th IAPRI Symposium on Packaging 2017 - Lausanne, Switzerland
Duration: 9 May 201212 May 2017


Conference28th IAPRI Symposium on Packaging 2017


  • packaging design
  • sustainability
  • psychological distance
  • closeness
  • acceptance


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