Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 158, Issue 3, pp 637–658 | Cite as

Understanding Ethical Consumers Through Person/Thing Orientation Approach

  • Hyemi LeeEmail author
Original Paper


Research reflects the importance of understanding the motivational variables of ethical consumer behavior. However, existing research has been limited to more narrowly construed factors that show an obvious link with ethics. Currently, empirical work on motivational factors relevant to orientations working across context is scarce. To address this gap, this project investigated ethical consumption from the perspective of person orientation (PO) and thing orientation (TO), both of which presumably motivate individual differences. For this purpose, three main studies were conducted by using correlational and experimental approaches to assess the relationships among PO, TO, and ethical consumer behavior. Across the three studies, the current research provides strong evidence for PO as a key driver of ethical consumption behavior. In contrast, the role of TO was inconsistent. Moderating effects of gender were also somewhat apparent. The findings suggest that individual orientations are important motivational variables for better understanding ethical consumers and that future researchers should further investigate PO/TO in this context.


Ethical consumer behavior Person orientation Thing orientation Ecologically conscious consumer behavior Socially conscious consumer behavior 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Consumer StudiesEwha Womans UniversitySeoulSouth Korea

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