Toward a comprehensive model of the consumer ethical decision making process : an examination of regulatory focus and ethical ideology

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Toward a comprehensive model of the consumer ethical decision making process : an examination of regulatory focus and ethical ideology

 

Author: Zou, Wenli
Title: Toward a comprehensive model of the consumer ethical decision making process : an examination of regulatory focus and ethical ideology
Degree: M.Phil.
Year: 2012
Subject: Consumer behavior -- Moral and ethical aspects.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Dept. of Management and Marketing
Pages: 163 p. ; 30 cm.
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b2522694
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/6592
Abstract: The present study proposes and tests a consumer ethical decision making model by examining the influence of regulatory focus and ethical ideology. This study argues that regulatory focus (promotion focus versus prevention focus) determines ethical ideology (relativism versus idealism), which in turn, influences individual ethical judgment. In particular, it is hypothesized that promotion focus has a positive effect on relativism but a negative impact on idealism. In contrast, prevention focus positively relates to idealism but negatively associates with relativism. Whereas idealism is hypothesized to have a positive impact on ethical judgment, relativism is predicted to have a negative influence on ethical judgment, which in turn, has a positive effect on ethical intention. The current study further predicts that attention to social comparison information (ATSCI) attenuates the negative influence of relativism on ethical judgment. To verify the predictions, a questionnaire survey of 350 consumers regarding 'bringing your own shopping bags' (BYOB) practices was conducted in Hong Kong. Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) was employed to test the proposed model, which is generally supported. It was found that prevention focus had a positive impact on idealism but no influence on relativism; promotion focus was positively associated with relativism but negatively related to idealism. Idealism was observed to have a positive impact on ethical judgment, while relativism was found to be negatively associated with ethical judgment. In addition, the moderating effect of ATSCI on the negative impact of relativism on ethical judgment was marginally supported. Ethical judgment was found to have a positive impact on ethical intention. Theoretically, the current research makes the initial attempt to introduce regulatory focus theory to the consumer ethics research to explore the interrelationship between regulatory focus and ethical ideology and to reconcile the prior inconsistent findings regarding the relationships among personality, ethical ideology, and ethical judgment in the consumer ethical decision making process. Furthermore, this study identifies the boundary condition for the relationship between relativism and ethical judgment by introducing ATSCI as a moderator. Practically, the findings of the relationship between regulatory focus and ethical ideology, as well as the introduction of ATSCI, shed light on the promotion of ethical/green behaviors among consumers. This is elaborated on and discussed in Chapter 6. By understanding the underlying mechanism of consumer ethical decision making, policy makers can fine-tune strategies to cope with unethical consumer practices, while, at the same time, advocating ethical behaviors among consumers.

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