Measuring young consumers’ sustainable consumption behavior – YCSCB scale

Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels

Consumption plays a key role in efforts to achieve sustainable development. In recent years, several attempts have been made to make sustainable consumption behavior measurable at the individual level. Behavioral self-reports in the form of questionnaires are one possible tool in this regard. While a number of sustainable consumption behavior scales have been developed, there has been a lack of operationalizations tailored to the specifics of young people’s consumption behavior.

With the Young Consumers Sustainable Consumption Behavior (YCSCB) scale, we developed such an instrument and published it in the journal Young Consumers:

Fischer, D., Böhme, T., & Geiger, S. M. (2017). Measuring Young Consumers’ Sustainable Consumption Behavior: Development and Validation of the YCSCB Scale. Young Consumers, 18(3), 312–326.

A post-print version of the paper is available from Research Gate.

The full scale is available in English and German:

Paper abstract:

  • Purpose: Promoting sustainable consumption among young consumers has become a key priority on the research agenda in such different fields as education for sustainable development, environmental psychology, and consumer policy. Progress in this field has been hampered by a lack of sophisticated research instruments capable of measuring consumption behaviors that are relevant both in terms of their sustainability impacts and their suitability for teenagers. This study addresses this research gap and presents a scale for young consumers’ sustainable consumption behaviors (YCSCB) in the areas of food and clothing.
  • Design/methodology/approach: The scale was developed in a two-step, mixed-methods approach. In an initial qualitative interview study, the actual behaviors of theoretically selected young consumers (n=8) were identified with regard to acquiring, using, and disposing of consumer goods in the areas of food and clothing. The YCSCB scale was constructed using the findings of this qualitative study and then validated in a subsequent quantitative study (n=155).
  • Findings: The YCSCB scale is a valid and reliable scale to measure young consumers’ sustainable consumption behavior in the areas of food (n=14 items) and clothing (n=13 items).
  • Originality/value: The findings of this research provide a twofold contribution to advancing research on young consumers’ sustainable consumption behaviors. Firstly, it presents a consolidated scale that is explicitly constructed for teenagers and their consumption contexts. Secondly, it proposes a heuristic for developing more sophisticated measurements of SCB among young consumers that would allow comparison between studies, is focused on behaviors (instead of confounding behaviors with intentions, attitudes or values), and is impact-oriented in terms of sustainability relevance.

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