Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration (PhD)

Degree Level





Scot Burton

Committee Member

Robin L. Soster

Second Committee Member

Jeff B. Murray


Social sciences, Cognitive reference points, Consumer packaged goods, Perceived consumer efficacy, Self-enhancement, Sustainability disclosures, Sustainability utility


Despite the interest of consumers in sustainable and environmentally friendly products, only a limited number of studies have focused on sustainability level disclosures for consumer packaged goods. The general overarching purpose of this dissertation is to extend the internal reference point and information processing literatures to better understand how consumers will process sustainability disclosures. Applying the theoretical lens of assimilation bias in conjunction with self-enhancement offers an important extension to prior work. Across two retail lab studies and four online experiments, I demonstrate that the perceived sustainability utility (i.e., the difference between a specific brand's level of sustainability and category-level perceptions of sustainability) affect product evaluations and choices. Overall, findings generally suggest that the provision of sustainability labeling may effectively communicate sustainability information and affect product evaluations, but there are boundary conditions that should be considered. The moderating roles of latitude of judgment and perceived consumer efficacy further our understanding of sustainability information processing. These findings offer implications for consumer packaged goods marketers and retailers, as well as governmental and nongovernmental organizations concerned with sustainability.