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The impact of the implicit theories of social optimism and social pessimism on macro attitudes towards consumption

Abstract People have substantially differing attitudes towards consumption. Anti‐consumers are negative towards consumption. In contrast, pro‐consumers view consumption in a positive light. We posit that people's attitudes toward consumption at the societal (macro) level are impacted by the implicit theories they hold about whether society can solve the problems it faces. We identify two different implicit theories consumers hold regarding how solvable larger societal problems are. Social optimists believe that we will solve the problems that are emerging as we evolve at the societal level. In contrast, social pessimists believe that societal evolution is creating problems too large to be solved. We developed a macro attitudes model where social optimism and pessimism were posited to impact people's macro attitudes towards consumption. We present the results of a study that found that social optimists have more positive attitudes towards consumption and social pessimists have more negative attitudes towards consumption. We also found that this model provided a superior fit in comparison to three other plausible models relating implicit theories and attitudes towards consumption. These findings have implications for anti‐consumption research, consumer research on implicit theories, and social marketing designed to address problems associated with overconsumption.

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