The purpose of this paper is to investigate young adult consumers' (i.e. university undergraduates') evaluations of consumer behavior scenarios as ethical or unethical in relation to the respondents' philosophies of human nature.
An existing ethical decision making model in marketing was applied to consumer ethical decision‐making. Based upon the model, the marketer's solution to ethical dilemmas is influenced by factors such as attitudes. This study focused on a specific type of attitude (philosophies of human nature). Subjects completed a questionnaire that contained philosophies of human nature (PHN) items and three consumer behavior scenarios. Factor analysis was conducted on the PHN scale to assist in factoring items into subscales. One‐way analysis of variance was used to determine if a relationship existed between consumer ethical response scores and responses to the PHN scale.
For two of the PHN factors, the consumer ethical response scores differed significantly among the low, moderate, and high PHN groups. Subjects who were less believing that people behave dishonestly for personal gain had higher ethical response scores in all of the scenarios than subjects who were more believing. Subjects who were less believing that people will stand by their convictions had higher ethical response scores in the “returned garment after use” scenario than subjects who were more believing.
This study is one of a few that addresses variables related to how consumers make ethically related decisions and the results can be useful to employers in the apparel industry when screening job applicants.
Callen‐Marchione, K.S. and Ownbey, S.F. (2008), "Associations of unethical consumer behavior and social attitudes", Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 365-383. https://doi.org/10.1108/13612020810889317
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