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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Investigating the role of cause-and-effect simulation design in persuading online consumers to go green Tangwaragorn, Pattharin


This study examines the role of technology in motivating online consumers to purchase green products. The cause-and-effect simulation proposed by Fogg (2002) and the construal-level theory (CLT, Liberman and Trope 1998) are employed to develop two website designs: 1) the low-level and 2) the high-level cause-and-effect simulation. Both simulation designs show the relationship between consumers’ decision-making on the product attributes, the cause, and its impact on resources (e.g., energy) the product consumes, the effect. A recommendation agent (RA) is used to reflect the cause part of both designs. The main difference between the two designs is the effect part developed based on CLT. Specifically, the low-level simulation presents a more concrete, short-term effect, the utility cost per load, and the high-level simulation provides a more abstract, long-term effect, the 10-year utility cost. We compare these two designs against two control conditions—1) the no simulation which does not provide the RA and the utility cost and 2) the partial simulation which has only the RA. An online experiment with 79 participants was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of the simulation design on the green selection. Specifically, we assess whether the simulation design could persuade people to pay more for green products. The experimental results show both low-level and high-level simulations successfully motivate participants to choose greener products than the no simulation and the partial simulation. Moreover, the results suggest both full designs persuade participants to go green by enhancing the desirability consideration associated with the outcome resulting from the green purchase. This consideration was found to influence self-efficacy which leads to greener choices. Self-efficacy was also found to have a greater impact on the green product selection than participants’ attitudes. This is evident by the fact that participants generally have a pre-existing positive intention to buy green products. Thus, the role of the cause-and-effect simulation design is not so much to change people’s attitudes, but rather to reinforce those positive attitudes and thus help participants to abide by their good intentions. In other words, it helps increase self-efficacy that would be the key to promote the green purchase.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada