• Ida Jørgensen
  • Camilla Veggerby Nicolajsen
Through the years and today, the fashion industry has grown rapidly and causes a vast impact on people and the environment. In the UK, consumers are buying and spending more money on clothing than ever, meanwhile also becoming more aware of the environment and how their consumer behaviour has an effect on it. This has resulted in consumers actively trying to purchase more sustainably. Yet, academic studies have shown that even though the intention of buying sustainably is present, it is not always visible in consumers’ actual behaviour. This paradox of an attitude-behaviour gap, meaning consumers having the intentions but not acting on them is the phenomenon and the focus of this master’s thesis. The aim of this exploratory study is to investigate why there is a difference between consumers' intentions and their behaviour when purchasing sustainable clothing. Specifically, this master’s thesis tries to examine and explain why the attitude-behaviour gap occurs.

In order to understand and examine the attitude-behaviour gap within sustainable consumption, this master’s thesis draws upon the fields of Human Behaviour and Cognitive theory, implementing a combined theoretical framework of Martin Fishbein and Icek Ajzen’s Reasoned Action Model (2010) and Leon Festinger’s Cognitive Dissonance (1957).
Through a qualitative method and eight semi-structured interviews with British students between the ages of 18-35, we collected data concerning the respondents’ attitudes, intentions and their consumer behaviour when purchasing clothing. These data were coded and structured with Template Analysis’ coding process. The themes and codes formed the newly gained knowledge which was analysed and interpreted by using the combined theoretical framework. The analysis showed that several elements and factors are able to influence or interfere with a consumer’s intention or behaviour. Those intentions and behaviour were often rooted in their social identities or background factors. Finally, the master’s thesis can conclude that there sometimes is a difference between consumers intentions and actual behaviour when purchasing sustainable clothing, and this attitude-behaviour gap was often caused by cognitive dissonance, i.e., either conflicting attitudes or conflicting attitudes and behaviours. The master’s thesis can also conclude that the attitude-behaviour gap is influenced by several elements, some more salient than others depending on the individual. These elements were mainly controlling factors such as financial abilities or COVID-19, influence from friends, family or society/social media, their occupation as a student and their individual clothing preferences.

This master’s thesis contributes to the field of research regarding ethical consumption and attitude-behaviour gap. Based on this research individuals as well as organisations can find guidance of why an attitude-behaviour gap might occur within the context of purchasing sustainable clothing. Moreover, this research also provides assistance on how British students between the ages of 18-35 are talking about and perceiving sustainable clothing. Lastly, this master’s thesis also contributes to the field of attitude-behaviour gap within one market segment. In relation to this, it would be interesting to examine whether the influential factors within our focus group is similar to other groups.
Keywords: Consumer behaviour, Attitude-behaviour gap, Sustainable fashion, Ethical consumption, British students, Cognitive processes.
Udgivelsesdato31 maj 2021
Antal sider104
ID: 413350772