The Influence of Corporate Social Responsibility Efforts on the Moral Behavior of Consumers
AuthorNewman, Kevin P.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractLittle is known about how corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts affect consumer behavior outcomes that are not ultimately tied back to the firm (e.g., corporate financial performance). This dissertation addresses that gap in the literature by examining the influence of CSR behavior on the moral behavior of consumers. Findings from this dissertation demonstrate that some consumers vicariously balance their moral behavior against a brand's CSR efforts. For instance, I show that a brand's more socially responsible behavior can negatively influence the moral behavior of consumers (i.e., vicarious moral licensing effect) while a brand's less socially responsible behavior can positively influence the moral behavior of consumers (i.e., vicarious moral cleansing effect). However, these effects are limited to those consumers who have extended their psychological self to a brand conducting the CSR efforts. A series of five studies tests the proposed vicarious moral balancing effect, highlights boundary conditions of this effect, and demonstrates the process by which the vicarious moral licensing effect occurs. Study 1 demonstrates the vicarious moral balancing effect in the generosity behavior of consumers while study 2 extends these effects to the cheating behavior of consumers. Studies 3 and 4 find that making consumers more mindful of their moral decision making and behavior eliminates and even reverses earlier findings showing the negative influence of CSR behavior on the moral behavior of consumers. Study 5 demonstrates a potential process explanation for the vicarious moral licensing effect by showing that CSR behavior framed as goal commitment increases positive moral consumer behavior while CSR behavior framed as goal progress decreases positive moral consumer behavior. Implications, contributions, and limitations of these findings and directions for future areas of research are discussed.
Degree ProgramGraduate College