Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Conforming to the Green Movement

Keeping up with the Joneses, changes as readily as the times. In the 1960’s suburban neighborhoods and Sear’s products was all the rage. If you live on the Upper East Side on Manhattan, Dolce and Gabbana is a must and if you are an American in 2010 GREEN is in.

A recent series of studies conducted at the University of Minnesota and published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Vol. 98, No. 3) illustrated just how fake people can become to keep up with the Joneses of their time. In one experiment, participants were asked to select from 2 equally priced items which they would purchase (eco friendly or not cars, household cleaners). Participants were more likely to purchase the GREEN options because they were more desirable and status-evoking. However a second study illustrated that participants were more likely to select non-green and more indulgent products in private but would select GREEN products in public.

I found this study intriguing for a couple of reasons. First of all my husband often asks me why I respond to the compliment “I like that sweater, shirt, etc.” with “Oh, I got it on sale.” After thinking about the answer for awhile I came to the conclusion that if I do find it on sale I am not as ashamed of purchasing an expensive item for myself. You would never hear me say ‘Oh thank you, I got this Burberry bag at full price.” I guess a NORMAL response would all depend on your environment and what is acceptable. Secondly, the entire green movement is great. I like it and try to implement many green practices into my life. That said I hate that I may be conforming to a popular trend. In this case I think conforming may be good for the ego and the environment.

What do you find yourself doing that conforms to social standard even if you do not nessessarily believe in it or understand why you are behaving in such a way?

Also see
Novotney, A. Envy, it seems, really can turn us green. Monitor on Psychology, 41 (5). 10.
Griskevicius, V. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98 (3).

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