I See Me: The Role of Observer Imagery in Reducing Consumer Transgressions
Journal of Business Ethics
As the number of consumer transgressions (i.e., acts of deliberately violating the established marketplace codes of conduct) continues to increase, so do their financial repercussions for companies. Though academic and managerial interest in addressing this issue is growing, research on how to dissuade consumers from committing transgressions remains scarce. Drawing on the mental imagery literature and normative moral theory, the present research examines a novel way of reducing consumers’ appraisals of their own transgressions. Whereas an actor-imagery perspective fosters a teleological, egoistic view of morality and, in turn, induces moral leniency, having consumers adopt an observer-imagery perspective fosters a deontological view of morality and, in turn, induces moral stringency. The effects are robust across various types of consumer transgressions, including the purchase of counterfeit products (Studies 1 and 3) and return fraud in the form of wardrobing (Study 2). Study 2 also rules out vividness as an alternative explanation for these effects. Theoretical and managerial implications are discussed.
Saine, R., Kull, A., Besharat, A., & Varki, S. (2021). I See Me: The Role of Observer Imagery in Reducing Consumer Transgressions. Journal of Business Ethics, 168 (4), 721-732. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-019-04193-w