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Smart consumption transition? Prospects and limitations of digitalization for sustainable consumption

Individual consumption is becoming increasingly digitalized, from online search for consumption options, to purchase via online-shopping or the use of digital services such as sharing platforms. At the same time, the challenge arises that in industrial countries, energy- and resource intense consumption levels needs to reduce and transform in order to reach global sustainability targets. Taking an environmental psychology perspective, we examine which aspects of digitalization help or hinder sustainable consumption. We further explore which evidence can be found to answer this research question, both from empirical and theoretical studies. First, we categorize prospects and risks of digitalization on sustainable consumption. Then, we demonstrate how digitalization can change contextual and motivational factors. We present how existing approaches in environmental psychology can help understand the specific effects of digitalization on consumption. In the end, we sum up propositions for further research directions and conclusions for risks and prospects of digitalization for a transformation of consumption behaviour towards sustainability.