Nav: Home

Would you buy a product endorsed by Lance Armstrong?

October 22, 2012

It's much easier for consumers to justify continued support of a celebrity or politician disgraced by scandal when they separate moral judgments about a public figure from assessments of their professional performance, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

"Distinguishing between morality and performance allows consumers to avoid condoning immoral behavior. This may be one reason that the public discourse around scandals often focuses on the relationship between performance and morality rather than how wrong an action is," write authors Amit Bhattacharjee (Dartmouth College), Jonathan Z. Berman, and Americus Reed II (both Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania).

What do Bill Clinton, Martha Stewart, Tiger Woods, and Roman Polanski have in common? They are all public figures whose reputations have been threatened by scandals attracting relentless media coverage. How do consumers justify buying products endorsed by a celebrity accused of immoral actions or voting for a politician implicated in a scandal?

While some consumers withdraw their support, others may find ways to justify continuing their support either by excusing or justifying the immoral actions in question or separating a judgment of morality about the public figure from an assessment of their performance.

For example, after Tiger Woods admitted to adultery, consumers argued that they don't care for Tiger Woods as a person but still think he is the best golfer in the world and thus will continue to purchase his golf clubs. Instead of arguing that an immoral action is not that severe, consumers prefer to argue that it's not that relevant.

"It may feel wrong to say that immoral actions are acceptable. We don't want to be judged negatively by others for justifying bad behavior. Separating morality from professional standing may be especially appealing, and especially prevalent in public scandals, because it allows us to support an immoral actor without condoning their actions. It's a win-win," the authors conclude.
-end-
Amit Bhattacharjee, Jonathan Z. Berman, and Americus Reed II. "Tip of the Hat, Wag of the Finger: How Moral Decoupling Enables Consumers to Admire and Admonish." Journal of Consumer Research: April 2013. For more information, contact Jonathan Berman (jberm@wharton.upenn.edu) or visit http://ejcr.org/.

University of Chicago Press Journals

Related Consumers Articles:

'Locally grown' broccoli looks, tastes better to consumers
In tests, consumers in upstate New York were willing to pay more for broccoli grown in New York when they knew where it came from, Cornell University researchers found.
Should patients be considered consumers?
No, and doing so can undermine efforts to promote patient-centered health care, write three Hastings Center scholars in the March issue of Health Affairs.
Consumers choose smartphones mostly because of their appearance
The more attractive the image and design of the telephone, the stronger the emotional relationship that consumers are going to have with the product, which is a clear influence on their purchasing decision.
When consumers don't want to talk about what they bought
One of the joys of shopping for many people is the opportunity to brag about their purchases to friends and others.
As consumers, how do we decide what's 'best' when it's not clear?
Imagine you are choosing between two resorts for your island vacation.
Effects of ethnocentrism on consumers
Aitor Calvo-Turrientes, winner of the prize for End-of-Degree Project in Sustainability in 2015 awarded by the Faculty of Economics and Business of the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country in Vitoria-Gasteiz, is the author of the paper 'The valuation and purchase of food products that combine local, regional and traditional features: The influence of consumer ethnocentrism,' published recently by the prestigious journal Food Quality and Preference.
Organic consumers mean business
Groundbreaking research from Aarhus BSS shows that organic consumers are standing fast and are buying more and more organic products following an increasingly predictable pattern.
Perfect mannequins a turnoff for some consumers
Mannequins' long legs, tiny waistlines and perfect busts can sour some shoppers on the products they're wearing, especially consumers who don't like the look of their own bodies.
What's in a name? For young Chinese consumers, it's about culture mixing
Younger, more cosmopolitan Chinese consumers tend to favor brand translations that keep both the sound and the meaning of the original name, says U. of I. business professor and branding expert Carlos J.
Why do consumers participate in 'green' programs?
From recycling to reusing hotel towels, consumers who participate in a company's 'green' program are more satisfied with its service, finds a new study co-led by a Michigan State University researcher.
More Consumers News and Consumers Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: The Biology Of Sex
Original broadcast date: May 8, 2020. Many of us were taught biological sex is a question of female or male, XX or XY ... but it's far more complicated. This hour, TED speakers explore what determines our sex. Guests on the show include artist Emily Quinn, journalist Molly Webster, neuroscientist Lisa Mosconi, and structural biologist Karissa Sanbonmatsu.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#569 Facing Fear
What do you fear? I mean really fear? Well, ok, maybe right now that's tough. We're living in a new age and definition of fear. But what do we do about it? Eva Holland has faced her fears, including trauma and phobia. She lived to tell the tale and write a book: "Nerve: Adventures in the Science of Fear".
Now Playing: Radiolab

The Wubi Effect
When we think of China today, we think of a technological superpower. From Huweai and 5G to TikTok and viral social media, China is stride for stride with the United States in the world of computing. However, China's technological renaissance almost didn't happen. And for one very basic reason: The Chinese language, with its 70,000 plus characters, couldn't fit on a keyboard.  Today, we tell the story of Professor Wang Yongmin, a hard headed computer programmer who solved this puzzle and laid the foundation for the China we know today. This episode was reported and produced by Simon Adler with reporting assistance from Yang Yang. Special thanks to Martin Howard. You can view his renowned collection of typewriters at: antiquetypewriters.com Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.