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

See all articles by Kristine Ehrich

Kristine Ehrich

University of San Diego - School of Business Administration

Julie R. Irwin

University of Texas - McCombs School of Business

Date Written: February 9, 2009

Abstract

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

Ehrich, Kristine and Irwin, Julie R., Willful Ignorance in the Request for Product Information (February 9, 2009). Journal of Marketing Research, Vol. 42, No. 3, pp. 266-277, 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1340199

Kristine Ehrich

University of San Diego - School of Business Administration ( email )

5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110-2492
United States

Julie R. Irwin (Contact Author)

University of Texas - McCombs School of Business ( email )

Business,Government and Society Department
Austin, TX 78712
United States

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