Consumer decision-making and image theory: Understanding the socially responsible consumer.
AuthorNelson, Kim Allen.
Marketing -- Psychological aspects.
Consumers' preferences -- Environmental aspects.
Committee ChairPuto, Christopher P.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractMany consumers are now considering the effects of general corporate behavior (e.g., political views, charitable contributions, environmental disasters) and of the product's manufacture, consumption or disposal (e.g., animal testing, ecological harm) on society's overall well-being. These situations involve the issue of individual social responsibility and are good examples of complex decisions that are not readily explained by traditional decision theories. Abstract attributes (e.g., product "greenness" or lack of harm to the environment) and the active role of the decision maker's values, principles, and ethics are problematic. The primary purpose of this research is to develop a conceptual framework for consumer decision making in the presence of a social responsibility issue. The secondary purpose of the study is to assess the value of image theory for explaining the decision process. Image theory (Beach and Mitchell 1987; Beach 1990), a relatively recent development in decision making, provides a compatible decision framework for these types of decisions due to its emphasis on an individual's values and on the screening of alternatives using value-laden attributes. Survey methodology and consumer preference tasks are utilized, and the hypothesized models are tested by structural equation modeling. The findings suggest that image theory provides a credible explanation of socially responsible consumer choice. In terms of this study's context, a consumer who has a strongly held social responsibility principle, values a clean environment, has a high level of environmental concern, and believes that his/her actions make a difference, is more likely to be committed to a pro-environmental plan of action and to use certain decision processes. These specific processes are screening alternatives to eliminate those that are not environmentally friendly and weighting the greenness attribute heavily in evaluating options. Using image theory's terminology and structure, social responsibility and environmental value form the value image. Environmental concern and perceived consumer effectiveness form the trajectory image. The strategic image is reflected in the plan (commitment to pro-environmental behaviors) and tactics (using the social responsibility attribute in the decision process). This research demonstrates that enduring values and principles guide consumer behavior involving social responsibility issues.
Degree ProgramBusiness Administration