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Title: Is green really the colour of money? A conceptual inquiry into the effects of greenery on the consumer experience
Authors: JOYE, Yannick
BRENGMAN, Malaika 
Issue Date: 2008
Publisher: COST E39
Source: Larsmon, Merete (Ed.) Proceedings of the Halmar-Elverum COST E39 Conference.
Abstract: Human beings increasingly come to inhabit urban settings, where there are often less opportunities to experience nature. Based on (environmental) psychological research, scholars and policymakers therefore plead for inserting more green in urban contexts. Research has not only demonstrated that vegetation is aesthetically preferred, it also appears to have a restorative value for humans – findings which are sometimes explained from an evolutionary perspective. Although commercial contexts make up an important part of the urban fabric, research focussing on the effects of greenery in these specific settings is scarce. In order to address this void, two research streams are reviewed in this conceptual paper. On the one hand we provide an overview of evolutionary and environmental psychological research into the general beneficial effects of greenery on human beings. On the other hand, we focus on the effect of foliage in retail contexts on shopper behaviour, elaborating on retail atmospherics and the stimulus-organism-response model. Confronting both literatures allows us to chart the various possible ways in which greenery can play a role in commercial settings. As vegetation, for instance, is found to reduce stress, it will almost certainly impact on consumers’ feelings of pleasure and arousal. These emotional states have been demonstrated to trigger consumers’ approach/avoidance behaviours towards retail outlets as well as retail expenditures. In the final part of the paper we discuss some tensions and ethical implications of the previous discussion. We consider the complex ways in which green interventions interact with the wellbeing and welfare of the different stakeholders in commercial contexts (i.e. customers vs. retailers). We also acknowledge that incorporating greenery in commercial contexts could have perverse effects. While it could increase purchases and consumption, this – in turn – could be damaging for natural resources (including forests) in the long run. We will argue that this tension can be resolved if the integration of greenery in commercial contexts becomes part and parcel of an ‘ecological economics’.
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Category: C2
Type: Proceedings Paper
Appears in Collections:Research publications

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