What if consumers saw the bigger picture? Systems thinking and the adoption of bio-based consumer products

Joana Wensing*, Chad Baum, Laura Carraresi, Stefanie Bröring

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Systems thinking (ST) represents an important cognitive paradigm for the transition towards a circular bio-economy, as greater awareness of the environmental impact of fossil-based products may lead to a switch to sustainable alternatives produced from secondary biomass which is not used as feed or food. However, the relationship between ST and the adoption of bio-based products, as well as the general mechanism of how ST affects environmental behavior, is not yet well-understood. The present study therefore aims to close these research gaps by conducting a survey-based experiment with a ST-motivated treatment, in which participants are asked to list as many consequences of their consumption behavior as possible (N=446 US consumers). Our findings suggest that the treatment is able to slightly activate a ST perspective, along with indirectly affecting consumer intentions to buy bio-based products by means of ST. Subsequent mediation analyses further reveal that an ecological worldview as well as variables from the norm-activation model function as mediators of the relationship between ST and purchase intention.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101752
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • systems thinking
  • bio-based products
  • bioeconomy
  • pro-environmental behavior
  • mediation analysis


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