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Signaling moral values through consumption


Schneider, Florian H (2020). Signaling moral values through consumption. Working paper series / Department of Economics 367, University of Zurich.

Abstract

Firms often discourage certain categories of individuals from buying their products, in contrast with typical assumptions about profit maximization. This paper provides a potential rationale for such firm behavior: consumers seek to signal that they have “good” moral values to themselves and others by avoiding products popular among people with “bad” values. In laboratory experiments, I provide causal evidence that demand for a product is lower if its customer base consists of individuals with undesirable moral values. This effect occurs for both observable and unobservable consumption and for products that do not possess any inherent moral or undesirable qualities.

Abstract

Firms often discourage certain categories of individuals from buying their products, in contrast with typical assumptions about profit maximization. This paper provides a potential rationale for such firm behavior: consumers seek to signal that they have “good” moral values to themselves and others by avoiding products popular among people with “bad” values. In laboratory experiments, I provide causal evidence that demand for a product is lower if its customer base consists of individuals with undesirable moral values. This effect occurs for both observable and unobservable consumption and for products that do not possess any inherent moral or undesirable qualities.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Working Paper Series > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
JEL Classification:D12, C91, M3
Uncontrolled Keywords:Moral values, social image, self-image, signaling, consumption, experiments
Language:English
Date:October 2020
Deposited On:13 Oct 2020 15:21
Last Modified:13 Oct 2020 15:21
Series Name:Working paper series / Department of Economics
Number of Pages:88
ISSN:1664-705X
OA Status:Green
Official URL:https://www.econ.uzh.ch/en/research/workingpapers.html?paper-id=1049

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