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Reducing skepticism about corporate social responsibility: roles of gender and agentic-communal orientations

Kevin P. Newman (Department of Marketing, Providence College, Providence, Rhode Island, USA)
Rebecca K. Trump (Department of Marketing, Loyola University Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland, USA)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 30 January 2019

Issue publication date: 8 February 2019




Companies are increasingly emphasizing corporate social responsibility (CSR). However, consumers are often skeptical of the sincerity of companies’ CSR claims, particularly when the claim comes directly from the company. This paper aims to demonstrate how to reduce consumer CSR skepticism by examining the role of a company spokesperson’s gender and gender-related characteristics.


Two between-subjects experiments with a combined total of 329 participants examined how consumers’ levels of CSR skepticism are affected depending on the gender of the consumer and the gender and gender-related characteristics of the company’s CSR spokesperson.


Study 1 finds that a female (vs male) spokesperson generally elicits less CSR skepticism. However, Study 2 expands on this to demonstrate that consumers are less skeptical of a company’s CSR efforts when they are promoted by a spokesperson who exhibits gender-related characteristics that match, or are typically associated with, the individual consumer’s gender.

Practical implications

Brands often face difficulties in successfully promoting their own CSR efforts to skeptical consumers. These findings should guide companies and their brands in choosing ideal spokespeople for making effective, sincere CSR claims, depending on the target market.


This research is the first to identify the important role of gender in consumers’ perceptions of CSR sincerity. Thus, it provides practically-oriented strategies that may mitigate a growing consumer CSR skepticism that exists in today’s marketplace.



Newman, K.P. and Trump, R.K. (2019), "Reducing skepticism about corporate social responsibility: roles of gender and agentic-communal orientations", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 36 No. 1, pp. 189-196.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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