Ethical Values and Meta-Ethical Beliefs Guide Deference to Experts
57 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2018 Last revised: 30 Oct 2018
Date Written: October 29, 2018
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: Suggested Citation