Consumption and Digitalization

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E-commerce and mobile internet allow us the possibility to shop anywhere, anytime. Consumption options multiply and diversify, whilst at the same time marketing options expand through service customization and personalized advertisement. This changes consumption behaviour and possibly underlying motivations, attitudes and needs as well.

On one hand, the diversity of consumption options and increasingly efficient consumption processes can lead to rebound-effects: Shopping is done more quickly online, and more comfortably, ordering from the sofa and getting home delivery to your doorstep. As shopping becomes more and more convenient, might this lead to an increase in consumption? On the other hand, digitalization increases information quantity and quality and makes eco-friendly and ethical products accessible to anyone with an internet connection. Thus, digitalization has the potential to support people in practicing sustainable consumption. But can it also support a decrease of consumption to a level that is sustainable but also sufficient to meet human needs? In the dissertation, I examine psychological factors that induce rebound-effects as well as the potential for sufficiency. In surveys and experiments, we explore how digitalization changes consumption behaviour. And with this, how it can be designed in order to foster sustainable consumption.

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Vivian Frick

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