Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future:Influences of regulatory focus on consumers’ moral self-regulation

Schwabe, Maria, Dose, David and Walsh, Gianfranco (2017). Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future:Influences of regulatory focus on consumers’ moral self-regulation. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 28 (2), pp. 234-252.


Moral decisions in the marketplace largely depend on consumers’ own behavioral history. Psychology literature distinguishes two possible routes for consumers’ sequential moral decision making: moral balancing and moral consistency. Moral balancing refers to consumers’ deviation from the moral stance reflected in their past decisions; moral consistency implies that consumers repeat their prior moral and immoral decisions. Drawing on regulatory focus theory, four experimental studies affirm that balancing effects occur for consumers with a strong promotion focus, but consistency is more pronounced for prevention-focused consumers; the studies also elucidate the processes underlying these effects. In addition, the promotion-balancing effect, but not the prevention-repetition effect, disappears if the second decision is unambiguously moral or immoral. These findings contribute to a better understanding of morality in the marketplace by showing that the prevention-repetition effect from psychology literature arises in consumption situations, and the promotion-balancing effect emerges as a new consumer behavior phenomenon.

Publication DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/jcpy.1025
Divisions: Aston Business School > Marketing & strategy research group
Additional Information: © 2017 Society for Consumer Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords: regulatory focus,moral self-regulation,moral licensing,moral cleansing,moral consistency,moral consumption
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Related URLs: https://onlinel ... .1002/jcpy.1025 (Publisher URL)
Published Date: 2017-12-18
Authors: Schwabe, Maria
Dose, David
Walsh, Gianfranco



Version: Accepted Version

Access Restriction: Restricted to Repository staff only until 18 June 2019.

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