Ryoo, Y., Sung, Y., & Inna, C. (2020).
What makes materialistic consumers more ethical? Self-benefit vs. other-benefit appeals.
Journal of Business Research, 110, p. 173-183
Materialism is known to be negatively related to consumers’ ethical behaviors, and prior research has often assumed that highly materialistic consumers do not behave ethically. This study challenges such conventional wisdom and investigated ways to motivate highly materialistic consumers to engage in ethical consumption behaviors by examining the moderating role of the appeal type across two studies. The results indicated that highly materialistic consumers showed more positive attitudinal and behavioral responses to ethical products and campaigns when self-benefit (vs. other-benefit) appeals are implemented; however, less materialistic consumers’ responses did not depend on the appeal type. The two egoistic motivations, protective and enhancement motivations, were found to mediate the positive effect of self-benefit appeals among highly materialistic consumers. These findings suggest that materialistic and ethical values do not represent opposite ends of a single dimension, but rather indicate two independent dimensions in the same individual. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed, and suggestions for future research are offered.