The Mediating Role of Anticipated Guilt in Consumers’ Ethical Decision-Making
P. VAN KENHOVE
In this paper we theorize that the anticipation of guilt plays an important role in ethically questionable consumer situations. We propose an ethical decision-making framework incorporating anticipated guilt as partial mediator between consumers’ ethical beliefs (anteceded by ethical ideology) and intentions. In a first study we compared several models using structural equation modeling and found empirical support for our research model. A second experiment was set up to illustrate how retailers may apply these new insights to prevent consumers from taking advantage. Results showed that enhancing the anticipation of guilt (by making the interpersonal consequences of the unethical act more salient) increased consumers’ ethical intentions, controlling for ethical beliefs. Together these two studies may have important theoretical and managerial contributions.
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