A study protocol for testing the effectiveness of user-generated content in reducing excessive consumption

Atar Herziger, Amel Benzerga, Jana Berkessel, Niken L. Dinartika, Matija Franklin, Kamilla K. Steinnes, Felicia Sundström

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Excessive consumption is on the rise, as is apparent in growing financial debt and global greenhouse gas emissions. Voluntary simplicity, a lifestyle choice of reduced consumption and sustainable consumer behavior, provides a potential solution for excessive consumers. However, voluntary simplicity is unpopular, difficult to adopt, and under researched. The outlined research project will test a method of promoting voluntary simplicity via user-generated content, thus mimicking an existing social media trend (Minimalism) in an empirical research design. The project will test (a) whether the Minimalism trend could benefit consumers interested in reducing their consumption, and (b) whether self-transcendence (i.e., biospheric) and self-enhancement (i.e., egoistic and hedonic) values and goals have a similar impact in promoting voluntary simplicity. A one-week intervention program will test the efficacy of watching user-generated voluntary simplicity videos in reducing non-essential consumption. Each of the two intervention conditions will present participants with similar tutorial videos on consumption reduction (e.g., decluttering, donating), while priming the relevant values and goals (self-transcendence or self-enhancement). These interventions will be compared to a control condition, involving no user-generated content. Participants will undergo baseline and post-intervention evaluations of: voluntary simplicity attitudes and behaviors, buying and shopping behaviors, values and goals in reducing consumption, and life satisfaction. Experience sampling will monitor affective state during the intervention. We provide a detailed stepwise procedure, materials, and equipment necessary for executing this intervention. The outlined research design is expected to contribute to the limited literature on voluntary simplicity, online behavioral change interventions, and the use of social marketing principles in consumer interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number972
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Issue numberJUN
StatePublished - 9 Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Consumer values
  • Ethical consumption
  • Excessive consumption
  • Intervention studies
  • Self-enhancement
  • Self-transcendence
  • User-generated content
  • Voluntary simplicity

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychology(all)


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