Product sustainability preferences and emotional communication

Project: Research project

Project Details


Product sustainability preferences and emotional communication Product sustainability preferences and emotional communication Sustainability is a concept as old as the humanity itself. Even in a limitless (resources) environment, certain sustainability practices are perceived as advantageous to simply decimating the available resources. In hunter gatherer communities (still in existence in the 1950s and who regarded their environment as virtually limitless) a number of sustainable gathering practices were observed (eg. not picking all the berries from a bush but leaving some for natural re-seeding). That way they didnt have to travel longer and longer distances to find food sources but rather recycling the existing (proximal) resources ad infinitum. In the modern, technological world, sustainability takes many different forms: from sustainable technologies to business models and (morally) sustainable practices. However, despite this apparent ubiquity of sustainable practices, they all come down ultimately to sustainable behaviors. While sustainability and sustainable behaviors seem to be an innate common human trait (as seen above) most sustainable behaviors require some form of feedback (perceived action-effect chain). In the absence of a reinforcing feedback loop, it is unlikely that sustainable behaviors will develop or last for a significant period of time, should they occur spontaneously. In a supply chain environment that spans the entire globe and over many years (from product inception to consumption) any resemblance of a cause-effect feedback loop is completely obliterated as far as the consumer is concerned. In this context it is essential that the consumers receive the optimal information regarding the effects of their purchase on Earth resources as well as other humans. However, communicating the rational aspects of a global sustainable supply chain and human factors is virtually impossible at the point of sale or via a 30 sec ad. Fortunately, emotional communication does not require pages of text to communicate even a very complex idea. Furthermore, the impact of emotional communication is also known to last significantly longer than rational communication, to have an immediate impact on behaviors and more often than not to lead to social multiplication (aka going viral). Both visual and semantic techniques can be employed to communicate a sustainable message, however, finding the optimal emotional communication for various sustainable practices, and diverse groups of consumers is not trivial. Given the diverse informational background and the severe limitations for communication, it is very likely that nothing short of archetypal emotional triggers will work for these purposes. Finding the archetypal imagery or semantics that resonates with the consumers via classical interview techniques is a contradiction in terms (asking consumers to describe rationally the effect of subtle, emotional triggers). It is therefore imperative to utilize indirect methods that can uncover subjects emotional response to various triggers without asking their opinion about a specific execution of a design element or syntactic message. Also, it is important to cover a wide array of ideas in order to not artificially limit the combinatorial possibilities that will allow one to uncover the main visual and semantic building blocks for emotional communication given a specific topic and a certain target audience.
Effective start/end date10/15/193/31/20


  • INDUSTRY: Foreign Company: $17,136.00


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.