The Consumers’ Emotional Dog Learns to Persuade Its Rational Tail: Toward a Social Intuitionist Framework of Ethical Consumption
- 45 Downloads
Literature on consumers’ ethical decision making is rooted in a rationalist perspective that emphasizes the role of moral reasoning. However, the view of ethical consumption as a thorough rational and conscious process fails to capture important elements of human cognition, such as emotions and intuitions. Based on moral psychology and microsociology, this paper proposes a holistic and integrated framework showing how emotive and intuitive information processing may foster ethical consumption at individual and social levels. The model builds on social intuitionism to show how consumers’ a priori affect-laden intuitive moral judgments impact their post hoc reflective moral reasoning. Symbolic interactionism is used to interpret consumers as interdependent and socially embedded agents that self-construct their social identity through interactions with other consumers. The proposed social intuitionist framework of consumers’ ethical decision making shows that other-oriented moral emotions—such as elevation, gratitude, and empathy—interact with persuasion and social influence in ethical consumption. Consequently, moral emotions and intuition drive interpersonal persuasion among ethical consumers. Theoretical propositions and implications for consumer ethics theory and practice are discussed.
KeywordsConsumer ethical decision making Emotion Ethical consumption Intuition Persuasion Social influence
This study has not received any funding.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.
This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by the author.
- Blumer, H. (1969). Symbolic interactionism: Perspective and method. Prentice-Hall, NJ: Englewood Cliffs.Google Scholar
- Burke, L. A., & Miller, M. K. (1999). Taking the mystery out of intuitive decision making. Academy of Management Executive,13(4), 91–99.Google Scholar
- Carlson, D. S., Kacmar, K. M., & Wadsworth, L. L. (2009). The impact of moral intensity dimensions on ethical decision-making: Assessing the relevance of orientation. Journal of Managerial Issues,21(4), 534–551.Google Scholar
- Cherry, J., & Caldwell, J. (2013). Searching for the origins of consumer ethics: Bridging the gap between intuitive values and consumer ethical judgments. Marketing Management Journal,23(2), 117–133.Google Scholar
- Cooley, C. H. (1902). Human nature and the social order. New York: Charles Scribner's.Google Scholar
- Eisenberg, N., Shea, C. L., Carlo, G., & Knight, G. P. (2014). Empathy-related responding and cognition: A “chicken and the egg” dilemma. Handbook of Moral Behavior and Development,2, 63–88.Google Scholar
- Forbes. (2017). Millennials driving brands to practice socially responsible marketing. Retrieved November 11, 2017, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/sarahlandrum/2017/03/17/millennials-driving-brands-to-practice-socially-responsible-marketing/#4e6e8a5a4990.
- Haidt, J. (2000). The positive emotion of elevation. Prev. Treat. 3. Article 3. Retrieved February 7, 2018, from https://journals.apa.org/prevention/volume3/pre0030003c.html.
- Haidt, J. (2003). The moral emotions. In R. J. Davidson, K. R. Scherer, & H. H. Goldsmith (Eds.), Handbook of affective sciences (pp. 852–870). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Harrison, R., Newholm, T., & Shaw, D. (2005). The ethical consumer. London: Sage.Google Scholar
- Langer, E. J. (1978). Rethinking the role of thought in social interaction. New Directions in Attribution Research,2(1), 35–58.Google Scholar
- Mead, G. H. (1934). Mind, self, and society. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Nielsen. (2015). The sustainability imperative: New insights on consumer expectations. Retrieved November 10, 2017, from https://www.nielsen.com/content/dam/nielsenglobal/dk/docs/global-sustainability-report-oct-2015.pdf.
- Rest, J. R. (1986). Moral development: Advances in research and theory. New York: Praeger Publishers.Google Scholar
- Tangney, J. P., Stuewig, J., & Mashek, D. J. (2007b). What’s moral about the self-conscious emotions. In J. Tracey, R. W. Robins, & J. P. Tangney (Eds.), The self-conscious emotions: Theory and research (pp. 21–37). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Turner, J. C. (1982). Towards a cognitive redefinition of the social group. In H. Tajfel (Ed.), Social identity and intergroup relations (pp. 15–40). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar