Willful Ignorance in the Request for Product Information
Journal of Marketing Research, Vol. 42, No. 3, pp. 266-277, 2005
13 Pages Posted: 11 Feb 2009
Date Written: February 9, 2009
Attribute information is not always readily available to consumers. This is especially true for ethical attributes, such as labor practices, environmental friendliness, and so forth. Intuitively, it might be expected that consumers who would use an attribute in their decision making should seek attribute information, especially if it is easily obtainable. In three studies, the authors measure discrepancies between requests for available ethical attribute information and actual use of the same attribute in a conjoint task. In both between-subjects and within-subjects designs, the authors show that consumers (1) underrequest ethical attribute information and (2) are especially likely to show request/use inconsistency if they care about the underlying ethical issue. Negative emotions, especially the avoidance of anger, appear to drive this willful ignorance. These results add to the growing literature on avoidance mechanisms and consumer decision making and may shed light on when ethical attributes do (and do not) play a role in actual purchase behavior.
Keywords: Decision Making, missing information, dissonance reduction, willful ignorance, avoidance, ethics, morality
JEL Classification: D12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation