Consumers' values 'a barrier' to sharing economy, study shows

A psychological sense of power from personally owning material goods is a "real barrier" to the emergent sharing economy, a study has found.

A psychological sense of power from personally owning material goods is a 'real barrier' to the emergent sharing economy, a study has found.

Research by Nottingham Trent University shows that an insistence on ownership in the UK may deter people from taking part in innovative borrowing and lending schemes which offer environmental benefits.

The study also shows that a dislike of change from existing buying habits and issues of trust in other people were also barriers to such sustainable methods of consumption. The study was published today by the Journal of Cleaner Production.

"The throwaway culture and over-consumption are liable for major environmental problems like resource depletion and waste," said Laura Piscicelli, a postgraduate researcher from the university's School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment.

"The sharing economy - in which people use online communities to borrow, lend, swap and rent rarely used goods, rather than buy new ones - is a credible way to help tackle today's consumer society.

"What we've identified in this study, though, is that people's individual values may prevent collaborative consumption from becoming mainstream.

“Issues of trust, a preference for the status quo and the value placed by people on having an exclusive use of their own goods may be deterring wider society from adopting such sustainable methods of consumption.”

The study compared data from more than 60 users of sharing website Ecomodo with European Social Survey data on over 2,400 UK residents, and applied different theoretical approaches in order to understand people's values.

By contrast to the UK general population, Ecomodo users indicated that they were more open to change and less interested in self-enhancement.

Professor Tim Cooper, head of Nottingham Trent University's Sustainable Consumption Research Group, who supervised the study, said: "Our personal attachment to owning the goods we use could be preventing society from consuming in more sustainable ways.

"Unless we can change our buying habits, we will continue to consume resources at an unsustainable rate and cause massive environmental problems that future generations will be left to deal with."

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Consumers' values 'a barrier' to sharing economy, study shows

Published on 19 June 2015
  • Category: Press office; Research; School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment

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