Critical to the environmental success of sustainable innovations is the adoption by consumers. The consensus is that instrumental shortcomings of sustainable innovations inhibit their adoption. However, we argue that the adoption of sustainable innovations does not exclusively depend on their instrumental attributes. In addition, people may be motivated to adopt sustainable innovations because of their positive environmental and symbolic attributes, that is, they benefit the environment and can be used to signal positive characteristics to oneself and others. We studied the significance of instrumental, environmental and symbolic attributes for the adoption of two sustainable innovations: electric cars (Study 1) and local renewable energy systems (Study 2), following two methods. Results showed that when asked directly, participants claimed that instrumental and environmental attributes are most important for their decision to adopt sustainable innovations, while symbolic attributes were rated as less important. Interestingly, evaluations of the symbolic and environmental attributes of sustainable innovations, but not evaluations of their instrumental attributes, predicted different indicators of adoption (i.e., interest in, the acceptability of, and intention to adopt these sustainable innovations), suggesting that the significance of symbolic motives for adopting sustainable innovations may not be recognized by consumers. Moreover, favorable evaluations of symbolic attributes particularly enhanced interest in and acceptability of sustainable innovation when participants evaluated the instrumental attributes more negatively, but not when instrumental attributes were evaluated relatively positively. This suggests that the instrumental drawbacks of sustainable innovations may sometimes strengthen their positive signal, which can promote interest in sustainable innovations. (c) 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2014.01.012 under the license https://www.elsevier.com/tdm/userlicense/1.0/
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Published on 01/01/2014

Volume 2014, 2014
DOI: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2014.01.012
Licence: Other

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