Taboo Trade-Offs, Relational Framing, and the Acceptability of Exchanges

Journal of Consumer Psychology, Vol. 15, No. 1, pp. 2-15, 2005

15 Pages Posted: 17 Feb 2010

See all articles by A. Peter McGraw

A. Peter McGraw

University of Colorado at Boulder - Department of Marketing

Philip E. Tetlock

University of California, Berkeley - Organizational Behavior & Industrial Relations Group; University of Pennsylvania - Management Department

Date Written: 2005

Abstract

This article reports 4 experiments demonstrating the power of social-relational framing to complicate superficially straightforward economic exchanges of goods and services. Drawing from Alan Fiske’s theoretical framework as well as Tetlock’s sacred value protection model, the experiments demonstrate (a) pricing distortions and refusals to answer certain questions when people contemplate buying or selling objects endowed with special relational significance; (b) moral outrage and cognitive confusion when people are asked whether they would allow market-pricing norms to influence decisions that fall under the normative purview of communal-sharing, authority-ranking, and equality-matching relationships; and (c) elements of tactical flexibility in how people respond to breaches of relational boundaries (a willingness to turn a blind eye to taboo trade-offs when it is in their interest to do so). An agenda for future work is offered that explores how pragmatic, economic interests are balanced against the desire to be (or appear to be) the type of person who honors social-relational constraints on what should be considered fungible.

Suggested Citation

McGraw, A. Peter and Tetlock, Philip E., Taboo Trade-Offs, Relational Framing, and the Acceptability of Exchanges (2005). Journal of Consumer Psychology, Vol. 15, No. 1, pp. 2-15, 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1553985

A. Peter McGraw (Contact Author)

University of Colorado at Boulder - Department of Marketing ( email )

United States

Philip E. Tetlock

University of California, Berkeley - Organizational Behavior & Industrial Relations Group ( email )

Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

University of Pennsylvania - Management Department ( email )

The Wharton School
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6370
United States

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