Recycling cooperation and buying status: Effects of pure and competitive altruism on sustainable behaviors

Diego Costa Pinto, Márcia Maurer Herter, Patrícia Rossi, Walter Meucci Nique, Adilson Borges

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
306 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: This study aims to reconcile previous research that has provided mixed results regarding motivation for sustainable behaviors: pure altruism (cooperation) or competitive altruism (status). Drawing on evolutionary altruism and identity-based motivation, the authors propose that a match between pure (competitive) altruism and individualistic (collectivistic) identity goals enhance consumers’ motivations to engage in recycling (green buying). Design/methodology/approach: Three experimental studies show how pure and competitive altruism are associated with specific sustainable consumption (Study 1) and how altruism types should be matched with identity goals to motivate sustainable consumption (Studies 2 and 3). Findings: Study 1 shows that pure altruism is associated with recycling but not with green buying. Studies 2 and 3 show that pure (competitive) altruism and individualistic (collectivistic) goals lead to higher recycling (green buying) intentions. Research limitations/implications: The present research extends previous findings by showing that pure and competitive are indeed associated with specific sustainable behaviors. The authors suggest that the interaction between motives and identity goals can lead to a greater impact on recycling and green buying intentions. Practical implications: Public policymakers and companies will benefit by better understanding how specific combinations of altruism types and identity goals can foster recycling or green buying intentions. Originality/value: This research is the first to show how matches between pure and competitive altruism types and individualistic and collectivistic identity goals affect consumers’ motivations to engage in recycling and green buying.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)944-971
JournalEuropean Journal Of Marketing
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • Altruism type
  • Evolutionary altruism
  • Green buying
  • Recycling
  • Sustainable behaviors


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