Moral disengagement and neutralisation techniques as explanations of (un)ethical consumption

  • Robyn McCormack

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    A survey of 436 US consumers is conducted to identify the relationships among locus of control (chance), trait cynicism, moral disengagement, and neutralisation techniques in the context of ethical consumer behaviour. Further, two experimental studies support the survey with a manipulation of locus of control (chance) and moral disengagement mechanisms.
    The findings demonstrate that moral disengagement and neutralisation techniques are separate constructs that sequentially mediate the negative effects of locus of control (chance) and trait cynicism on ethically minded consumer behaviour. This does not occur in all moral disengagement mechanisms and unexpectedly the agency locus of moral disengagement encourages more ethical behaviour. Further, neutralisation techniques explain less ethical consumption but not the attitude-behaviour gap itself.
    This research addresses the gap in the moral psychology literature on the relationships between moral disengagement and neutralisation techniques and the gap in the consumer psychology literature on their joint effects on ethical consumer behaviour. Practically, this research provides marketers and policy makers with strategies to encourage ethically minded consumers to become ethically minded buyers, increasing significant market share for firms in the eco-friendly and social well-being industries. The “moral engagement” finding can be used to elicit more ethical behaviour by presenting consumers with the challenges of others in difficult circumstances.
    Date of Award8 Jun 2023
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorRafi Chowdhury (Supervisor) & Gulasekaran Rajaguru (Supervisor)

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