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The impact of virtual interaction on consumers' pro-environmental behaviors: the mediating role of platform intimacy and love for nature

Xuebing Dong (School of Management, Shanghai University, Shanghai, China)
Yaping Chang (School of Management, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China)
Junyun Liao (Research Institute on Brand Innovation and Development of Guangzhou, School of Management, Jinan University, Guangzhou, China)
Xiancheng Hao (School of Management, Shanghai University, Shanghai, China)
Xiaoyu Yu (School of Management, Shanghai University, Shanghai, China)

Information Technology & People

ISSN: 0959-3845

Article publication date: 4 January 2023

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Abstract

Purpose

Companies are increasingly designing pro-environmental games to motivate users to implement pro-environmental behaviors (PEBs). However, how different types of virtual interactions affect PEBs in pro-environmental games is not clear. Thus, the authors propose that two types of virtual interaction, interactions with game objects and interactions with other users, can induce platform intimacy and love for nature and that platform intimacy has a direct effect on love for nature. Simultaneously, the authors examine the moderating effect of network externality on the relationship between the two types of virtual interaction and platform intimacy.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors, respectively, employed data from 92 students and 574 Chinese mobile users to empirically investigate the research framework.

Findings

The findings indicate that participants in interactions with game objects and interactions with other users reported stronger feelings regarding platform intimacy and love for nature, which, in turn, positively influences PEBs. Consumers with stronger perceptions of network externalities were more likely to be affected by the initiation effect of the interaction with game objects.

Originality/value

The authors introduce the notion of love for nature to the pro-environmental behaviors field and discuss the priming effect of two types of interactions on platform intimacy and love for nature. In addition, the authors focus on the important effect of network externality on users' emotions.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Funding: This study was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (71702097; 71802097; 71772117; 71720107004; 72272061); The Key Project of Philosophy and Social Sciences Research supported by Ministry of Education (15JZD017); The Ministry of Education of Humanities and Social Science Project (22YJC630077); Philosophy and Social Sciences Planning Program of Guangzhou (2021GZYB05 and 2022JDGJ06).

Citation

Dong, X., Chang, Y., Liao, J., Hao, X. and Yu, X. (2023), "The impact of virtual interaction on consumers' pro-environmental behaviors: the mediating role of platform intimacy and love for nature", Information Technology & People, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/ITP-02-2021-0164

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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