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


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: College of Business and Social Sciences > Aston Business School > Marketing & Strategy
Additional Information: © 2017 Society for Consumer Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords: regulatory focus,moral self-regulation,moral licensing,moral cleansing,moral consistency,moral consumption
Publication ISSN: 1532-7663
Last Modified: 01 Apr 2024 07:23
Date Deposited: 05 Jan 2018 15:05
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Related URLs: https://onlinel ... .1002/jcpy.1025 (Publisher URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2018-04-06
Published Online Date: 2017-12-18
Accepted Date: 2017-11-29
Authors: Schwabe, Maria
Dose, David (ORCID Profile 0000-0003-1530-8182)
Walsh, Gianfranco



Version: Accepted Version

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