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.
|Date of creation:||26 Apr 2014|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Web page: http://www.sowi.unibe.ch/|
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.:
- Falk, Armin & Fischbacher, Urs, 2001.
"A Theory of Reciprocity,"
CEPR Discussion Papers
3014, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- 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.
- Veronika Andorfer & Ulf Liebe, 2012. "Research on Fair Trade Consumption—A Review," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 106(4), pages 415-435, April.
- Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 1996. "Altruism in Anonymous Dictator Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 181-191, October.
- Franzen, Axel & Pointner, Sonja, 2012. "Anonymity in the dictator game revisited," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 74-81.
- Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1986. "Rational Choice and the Framing of Decisions," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(4), pages S251-78, 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.
- 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 653-60, June.
- 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.
- Fredrik Carlsson & Jorge García & Åsa Löfgren, 2010.
"Conformity and the Demand for Environmental Goods,"
Environmental & Resource Economics,
European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 47(3), pages 407-421, November.
- Kelvin J. Lancaster, 1966. "A New Approach to Consumer Theory," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 74, pages 132.
- repec:feb:natura:0059 is not listed on IDEAS
- 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.
- Nick Hanley & Robert Wright & Vic Adamowicz, 1998. "Using Choice Experiments to Value the Environment," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 11(3), pages 413-428, April.
- 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 1447-58, December.
- 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, 03.
- Daniel Nettle & Gilbert Roberts & Melissa Bateson, 2006. "Cues of being watched enhance cooperation in a real-world setting," Natural Field Experiments 00214, The Field Experiments Website.
- Kahneman, Daniel & Wakker, Peter P & Sarin, Rakesh, 1997. "Back to Bentham? Explorations of Experienced Utility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 375-405, May.
- 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.
- 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.
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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.