Seeking socially responsible consumers : exploring the intention-search-behaviour gap

Azzopardi, Leif and van der Sluis, Frans; (2024) Seeking socially responsible consumers : exploring the intention-search-behaviour gap. In: CHIIR '24: Proceedings of the 2024 Conference on Human Information Interaction and Retrieval. Association for Computing Machinery, GBR, pp. 153-164. ISBN 9798400704345 (

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The increasing prominence of "Socially Responsible Consumers" has brought about a heightened focus on the ethical, environmental, social, and ideological dimensions influencing product purchasing decisions. Despite this emphasis, studies have consistently revealed a significant gap between individuals' intentions to be socially responsible and their actual purchasing behaviors: they often choose products that do not align with their values. This paper aims to investigate the role of “search” and it how influences this gap. Our investigation involves an online survey of 286 participants, where we inquire about their search behaviors and whether they considered various dimensions—ranging from price and features to environmental, social, and governance issues — in relation to a recent purchase. Contrary to expectations of a clear intention-behavior gap, our findings suggest most participants exhibited indifference or lack of awareness regarding these "responsible" aspects. While, for those participants who were more ethically minded, they reported difficulties related to searching for and acquiring information regarding such aspects, which contributed to the gap. Our findings suggests that part of the intention-behaviour gap can be framed as an information seeking problem. Moreover our findings motivate the development of search systems and platforms that better help support consumers make more informed and responsible purchasing decisions.