Mind your meat: How meat-related cognitive dissonance influences the intention to purchase organic meat

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Sustainability problems arising from food systems are increasing and it is undeniable that meat production and consumption play a crucial role in this trend. To reduce this problem, consumers should be considered as a potential agent of change, which requires understanding of the psychology of meat consumption. To understand the psychology of meat consumption, the theory of cognitive dissonance has been used often. This theory has been extended by Rothgerber (2020) who developed the meat-related cognitive dissonance framework stating that concerns about animal welfare, the environment, and personal health are the producers of meat-related cognitive dissonance. This study examines if taking away the consumer’s concerns about animal welfare, the environment, and personal health can move consumers into making more sustainable food choices. The consumers were manipulated by an informative advertisement that decreased their concerns about these MRCD producing aspects. The survey data were taken from 254 Dutch supermarket visitors. The results showed that the manipulation positively affected the purchase intention for organic chicken meat. Furthermore, animal welfare, the environment, and personal health mediated this relationship. As this study is the first empirical study that combined the MRCD producing aspects with the concept of purchase intention in an online experiment, the results contribute to literature in both fields. In addition, the results may help and motivate marketers to further understand the psychology behind meat consumption and how consumers can be moved into making more sustainable meat choices.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen