Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 81, Issue 2, pp 281–295 | Cite as

Gender Differences in Double Standards

  • Iris VermeirEmail author
  • Patrick Van Kenhove


The purpose of the present study is to investigate gender differences in the use of double standards in ethical judgements of questionable conduct instigated by business or consumers. We investigate if consumers are more critical towards unethical corporate versus consumer actions and if these double standards depend on the gender of the respondent. In the first study, we compared evaluations of four specific unethical actions [cfr. DePaulo, 1987, in: J. Saegert (ed.) Proceedings of the Division of Consumer Psychology (American Psychological Association, Washington DC)] instigated by either the consumer or the corporation. In a second study, we investigated the perception of some general consumer and corporate (un)ethical actions in addition to DePaulo’s unethical scenarios. Both researches show that females are less likely to use double standards when it comes to their own (un)ethical behaviour compared to corporate (un)ethical actions. Furthermore, gender differences in the use of double standards depend on the type of unethical behaviour. Limitations and suggestions for further research are discussed.


consumer ethics double standards gender ethical evaluations ethical beliefs 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Business Administration and ManagementHogeschool GhentGhentBelgium
  2. 2.Economics and Business AdministrationGhent UniversityGhentBelgium

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