Does consumer‐firm affiliation matter? The impact of social distance on consumers’ moral judgments

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

When the leader of a firm commits a professional transgression, how would customers’ judgments of the transgressor's professional performance and immorality differ from those of noncustomers’? This research answers this question by investigating factors that explain the discrepancy in moral judgments between noncustomers and customers affiliated with the firm of a transgressing leader. Drawing on construal level theory, our two experimental studies consistently demonstrate that relative to high social distance (i.e., noncustomers), low social distance (i.e., customers) leads to more positive judgments of the transgressor's professional performance, but differences in the social distance do not directly lead to disparities in judgments of immorality. Social distance, however, affects both performance and immorality judgments when mediating mechanisms (conscious and nonconscious moral reasoning) are accounted for, such that low social distance indirectly influences customers to be more lenient in not only their performance judgments but also their immorality judgments. This research contributes to the topic of morality that permeates the current discourse on ethical business transgressions and, in particular, to an understanding of specific mechanisms that guide consumers’ moral judgments.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalPsychology and Marketing
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2019

Keywords

  • Constual level theory
  • Moral judgements
  • Moral reasoning
  • Social distance

Cite this

@article{c3d8a846a0ff448b9c17ef59fe513c52,
title = "Does consumer‐firm affiliation matter? The impact of social distance on consumers’ moral judgments",
abstract = "When the leader of a firm commits a professional transgression, how would customers’ judgments of the transgressor's professional performance and immorality differ from those of noncustomers’? This research answers this question by investigating factors that explain the discrepancy in moral judgments between noncustomers and customers affiliated with the firm of a transgressing leader. Drawing on construal level theory, our two experimental studies consistently demonstrate that relative to high social distance (i.e., noncustomers), low social distance (i.e., customers) leads to more positive judgments of the transgressor's professional performance, but differences in the social distance do not directly lead to disparities in judgments of immorality. Social distance, however, affects both performance and immorality judgments when mediating mechanisms (conscious and nonconscious moral reasoning) are accounted for, such that low social distance indirectly influences customers to be more lenient in not only their performance judgments but also their immorality judgments. This research contributes to the topic of morality that permeates the current discourse on ethical business transgressions and, in particular, to an understanding of specific mechanisms that guide consumers’ moral judgments.",
keywords = "Constual level theory, Moral judgements, Moral reasoning, Social distance",
author = "Carolyn Lo and Yelena Tsarenko and Dewi Tojib",
year = "2019",
doi = "10.1002/mar.21270",
language = "English",
journal = "Psychology and Marketing",
issn = "0742-6046",
publisher = "Wiley-Blackwell",

}

Does consumer‐firm affiliation matter? The impact of social distance on consumers’ moral judgments. / Lo, Carolyn; Tsarenko, Yelena; Tojib, Dewi.

In: Psychology and Marketing, 2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

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AU - Lo, Carolyn

AU - Tsarenko, Yelena

AU - Tojib, Dewi

PY - 2019

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N2 - When the leader of a firm commits a professional transgression, how would customers’ judgments of the transgressor's professional performance and immorality differ from those of noncustomers’? This research answers this question by investigating factors that explain the discrepancy in moral judgments between noncustomers and customers affiliated with the firm of a transgressing leader. Drawing on construal level theory, our two experimental studies consistently demonstrate that relative to high social distance (i.e., noncustomers), low social distance (i.e., customers) leads to more positive judgments of the transgressor's professional performance, but differences in the social distance do not directly lead to disparities in judgments of immorality. Social distance, however, affects both performance and immorality judgments when mediating mechanisms (conscious and nonconscious moral reasoning) are accounted for, such that low social distance indirectly influences customers to be more lenient in not only their performance judgments but also their immorality judgments. This research contributes to the topic of morality that permeates the current discourse on ethical business transgressions and, in particular, to an understanding of specific mechanisms that guide consumers’ moral judgments.

AB - When the leader of a firm commits a professional transgression, how would customers’ judgments of the transgressor's professional performance and immorality differ from those of noncustomers’? This research answers this question by investigating factors that explain the discrepancy in moral judgments between noncustomers and customers affiliated with the firm of a transgressing leader. Drawing on construal level theory, our two experimental studies consistently demonstrate that relative to high social distance (i.e., noncustomers), low social distance (i.e., customers) leads to more positive judgments of the transgressor's professional performance, but differences in the social distance do not directly lead to disparities in judgments of immorality. Social distance, however, affects both performance and immorality judgments when mediating mechanisms (conscious and nonconscious moral reasoning) are accounted for, such that low social distance indirectly influences customers to be more lenient in not only their performance judgments but also their immorality judgments. This research contributes to the topic of morality that permeates the current discourse on ethical business transgressions and, in particular, to an understanding of specific mechanisms that guide consumers’ moral judgments.

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