Ethical Consumption and Social Context: Experimental Evidence from Germany and the United States
This research examines the role of social context in ethical consumption, specifically, the extent to which anonymity and social control influence individuals' decisions to purchase organic and Fair Trade coffee. Our research design overcomes biases of prior research by combining framing and discrete choice experiments in a survey. We systematically vary coffee growing method (organic or not), import status (Fair Trade or not), flavor, and price across four social contexts that vary in degree of anonymity and normative social control. The social contexts are buying coffee online, in a large grocery store, in a small neighborhood shop, and for a meeting of a human rights group. Subjects comprise 1,103 German and American undergraduate students. We find that social context indeed influences subjects' ethical consumer decisions, especially in situations with low anonymity and high social control. In addition, gender, coffee buying, and subjective social norms trigger heterogeneity regarding stated ethical consumption and the effects of social context. These results suggest previous research has underestimated the relevance of social context for ethical consumption and overestimated altruistic motives of ethical consumers. Our study demonstrates the great potential of discrete choice experiments for the study of social action and decision making processes in sociology.
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Hoffman Elizabeth & McCabe Kevin & Shachat Keith & Smith Vernon, 1994. "Preferences, Property Rights, and Anonymity in Bargaining Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 346-380, November.
- John Cranfield & Spencer Henson & James Northey & Oliver Masakure, 2010. "An assessment of consumer preference for fair trade coffee in Toronto and Vancouver," Agribusiness, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(2), pages 307-325.
- Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 1996. "Altruism in Anonymous Dictator Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 181-191, October.
- John A. List, 2007.
"On the Interpretation of Giving in Dictator Games,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 482-493.
- John List, 2007. "On the Interpretation of Giving in Dictator Games," Artefactual Field Experiments 00479, The Field Experiments Website.
- Falk, Armin & Fischbacher, Urs, 2006. "A theory of reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 293-315, February.
- Armin Falk & Urs Fischbacher, "undated". "A Theory of Reciprocity," IEW - Working Papers 006, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
- Falk, Armin & Fischbacher, Urs, 2001. "A Theory of Reciprocity," CEPR Discussion Papers 3014, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Armin Falk & Urs Fischbacher, 2001. "A Theory of Reciprocity," CESifo Working Paper Series 457, CESifo Group Munich.
- Nick Hanley & Robert Wright & Vic Adamowicz, 1998. "Using Choice Experiments to Value the Environment," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 11(3), pages 413-428, April.
- Fredrik Carlsson & Jorge García & Åsa Löfgren, 2010. "Conformity and the Demand for Environmental Goods," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 47(3), pages 407-421, November.
- David A. Hensher & Stewart Jones & William H. Greene, 2007. "An Error Component Logit Analysis of Corporate Bankruptcy and Insolvency Risk in Australia," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 83(260), pages 86-103, March.
- Train,Kenneth E., 2009. "Discrete Choice Methods with Simulation," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521766555, December.
- Train,Kenneth E., 2009. "Discrete Choice Methods with Simulation," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521747387.
- Kenneth Train, 2003. "Discrete Choice Methods with Simulation," Online economics textbooks, SUNY-Oswego, Department of Economics, number emetr2.
- Franzen, Axel & Pointner, Sonja, 2012. "Anonymity in the dictator game revisited," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 74-81.
- Melissa Bateson & Daniel Nettle & Gilbert Roberts, 2006. "Cues of being watched enhance cooperation in a real-world setting," Natural Field Experiments 00214, The Field Experiments Website.
- N. Lesca, 2011. "Introduction," Post-Print halshs-00640604, HAL.
- Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L., 1992. "Valuing public goods: The purchase of moral satisfaction," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 57-70, January.
- Kelvin J. Lancaster, 1966. "A New Approach to Consumer Theory," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 74, pages 132-132.
- Louviere,Jordan J. & Hensher,David A. & Swait,Joffre D., 2000. "Stated Choice Methods," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521788304.
- Veronika Andorfer & Ulf Liebe, 2012. "Research on Fair Trade Consumption—A Review," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 106(4), pages 415-435, April.
- repec:feb:natura:0059 is not listed on IDEAS
- Daniel Kahneman & Richard H. Thaler, 2006. "Anomalies: Utility Maximization and Experienced Utility," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 221-234, Winter.
- Andreoni, James, 1989. "Giving with Impure Altruism: Applications to Charity and Ricardian Equivalence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1447-1458, December.
- John Rose & Michiel Bliemer, 2013. "Sample size requirements for stated choice experiments," Transportation, Springer, vol. 40(5), pages 1021-1041, September.
- Sebastian Koos, 2011. "Varieties of Environmental Labelling, Market Structures, and Sustainable Consumption Across Europe: A Comparative Analysis of Organizational and Market Supply Determinants of Environmental-Labelled Go," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 34(1), pages 127-151, March.
- Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1986. "Rational Choice and the Framing of Decisions," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(4), pages 251-278, October.
- Hoffman, Elizabeth & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon L, 1996. "Social Distance and Other-Regarding Behavior in Dictator Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 653-660, June. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bss:wpaper:7. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Ben Jann)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.