It’s not queasy being green: the role of disgust in willingness-to-pay for more sustainable product alternatives

Philip A. Powell, Christopher R. Jones, Nathan S. Consedine

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Scholars differ in the extent to which they regard the “yuck factor” as an important predictor of sustainable consumption decisions. In the present decision experiment we tested whether people’s disgust traits predicted relative willingness-to-pay (WTP) for sustainable product alternatives, including atypically-shaped fruit and vegetables; insect-based food products; and medicines/drinks with reclaimed ingredients from sewage. In a community sample of 510 participants (255 women), using path analyses we examined the extent to which effects of disgust traits on WTP were mediated by cognitive appraisals of perceived taste, health risk, naturalness, visual appeal, and nutritional/medicinal value. Further, we assessed whether these effects were moderated by the tendency to regulate disgust using reappraisal and suppression techniques. Across all product categories, when controlling for important covariates such as pro-environmental attitudes, we found a significant negative effect of trait disgust propensity on WTP. In total, a 1 SD increase in participants’ disgust propensity scores predicted between 6% and 11% decrease in WTP. Appraisals of perceived naturalness, taste, health risk, and visual appeal significantly mediated these effects, differing in importance across the product categories, and explaining approximately half of the total effect of disgust propensity on WTP. Little-to-no support was found for moderation of effects by trait reappraisal or suppression. Individual differences in disgust are likely to be a barrier for certain viable sustainable alternatives to prototypical products. Marketing interventions targeting consumer appraisals, including in particular the perceived naturalness and taste, of these kinds of products may be effective.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103737
Number of pages11
JournalFood Quality and Preference
Early online date11 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019


  • Consumer decisions
  • Consumer emotion
  • Disgust
  • Path analysis
  • Pro-environmental products
  • Willingness to pay


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