The ethics of nudging: Using moral foundations theory to understand consumers' approval of nudges

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Abstract

This study examines the ethics of nudging and consumers' approval of nudges through the prism of moral foundations theory. Results showed that binding foundations (loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, sanctity/degradation) are, in general, positively related to approval of System 1 (relying on automatic information processing) and System 2 (relying on deliberative information processing) nudges. Individualizing foundations (care/harm, fairness/cheating) are, in general, positively related to supporting System 2 nudges. Some exceptions to these relationships exist, based on the issue the nudge is addressing. Binding foundations mediate the effects of empathy and conservatism on approval of both types of nudges. Individualizing foundations mediate the effects of empathy on approval of System 2 nudges. Moral foundations theory is useful for examining acceptance of nudges as it identifies diverse ethical reasons (welfare, fairness, loyalty, authority deference, sanctity) for supporting nudges, linking ethical evaluations with consumers' approval of nudges. Findings provide insights for persuading consumers to support nudges.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Consumer Affairs
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Dec 2021

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