Ethical Values and Meta-Ethical Beliefs Guide Deference to Experts

57 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2018 Last revised: 30 Oct 2018

See all articles by Samuel Johnson

Samuel Johnson

University of Bath - School of Management

Max Rodrigues

Yale University - Department of Psychology

David Tuckett

University College London - Centre for the Study of Decision-Making Uncertainty

Date Written: October 29, 2018

Abstract

In a crowded marketplace, consumers must often defer to external knowledge sources, such as user testimonials or professional reviewers. How do consumers choose which experts to rely on? Across three studies, we find that consumers are likelier to rely on product reviews written by reviewers who share their moral values. This was true for different product categories including books (Study 1A) and consumer electronics (Study 1B), and generalized across a variety of measures, including purchase intentions, product attitudes, information-seeking, willingness-to-pay, and consequential choices. This effect occurred because people often believe moral values to be objectively true or false, and thus shared moral values signaled expert competence (Study 2), especially among consumers with more objectivist meta-ethical beliefs (Study 3). This mechanism held up when competed against various alternative mediators, including trust and shared personality, preferences, and social group. We discuss implications for research on persuasion, expert detection, ideology, and moral judgment.

Keywords: expertise, values, similarity, persuasion, moral psychology

JEL Classification: D12, D83, D91, M31

Suggested Citation

Johnson, Samuel and Rodrigues, Max and Tuckett, David, Ethical Values and Meta-Ethical Beliefs Guide Deference to Experts (October 29, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3214001 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3214001

Samuel Johnson (Contact Author)

University of Bath - School of Management ( email )

Claverton Down
Bath, BA2 7AY
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.sgbjohnson.com/

Max Rodrigues

Yale University - Department of Psychology ( email )

P.O. Box 208205
New Haven, CT 06520-8205
United States

David Tuckett

University College London - Centre for the Study of Decision-Making Uncertainty ( email )

Gower Street
London, WC1 6BT
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/psychoanalysis/unit-staff/david.htm

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