The Effects of Social Desirability on Reported Attitudes towards Sustainably Produced Food.

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Joyce, Cora
Issue Date
Master of Business Administration (Marketing)
Dublin Business School
The primary aim of this research was to examine the effects of social desirability (SD) on reported attitudes towards sustainably produced food. A quantitative online questionnaire was created via Microsoft Forms. 178 responses were collected of which 171 were deemed valid. The questionnaire design consisted of 6 sections, simulated grocery shopping task, demographics, most important factors when purchasing food, intention to purchase, social desirability (10 item MCSD-SF) and environmental disposition (NEP scale). The simulated grocery task was a new measure to try and determine actual behavior from intention. Multiple regression was analysed on SPSS to evaluate the influence of social desirability. The results support that SD influences self-reported attitudes, however in a simulated shopping task, SD does not predict any behaviour. The study also found that participants ranked taste as the most important factor when purchasing food. 30% of the sustainable offerings were chosen by the majority of participants, of which, the top two were also the two with the highest relative price increase. This showed that cost is less of a barrier to sustainability purchase behaviour than previous studies have found. In conclusion, this research found that intentions are not a reliable indicator of behaviour. Future research on sustainable consumer behaviour should try incorporating a measure to control SD and mimic actual behaviour patterns as close as possible (such as a simulated grocery task).