When consumer decisions are moral decisions: Moral Foundations Theory and its implications for consumer psychology

Journal of Consumer Psychology

50 Pages Posted: 18 Mar 2024

See all articles by Guilherme A. Ramos

Guilherme A. Ramos

Vanderbilt University

Wayne Johnson

University of Utah

Eric VanEpps

Vanderbilt University - Owen Graduate School of Management

Jesse Graham

University of Utah - David Eccles School of Business

Date Written: January 18, 2024

Abstract

Although researchers have considered the role of morality in consumer psychology over the years, such investigations often fail to (a) recognize the different values that consumers might hold, and (b) provide proper context for why different moral considerations emerge. Moral Foundations Theory (MFT; Graham et al., 2013; Haidt & Joseph, 2004) provides just such a conceptual framework for understanding the diversity of moral thought that exists across cultures and demographic groups. MFT describes morality not as a monolithic entity, but as a pluralistic set of intuitive values that were shaped by evolutionary pressures and edited by distinct cultures. We review the central claims of Moral Foundations Theory and describe how the theory can offer new insights when applied to consumer psychology, providing examples from existing research on persuasion, emotion, and prosocial behavior.

Suggested Citation

A. Ramos, Guilherme and Johnson, Wayne and VanEpps, Eric and Graham, Jesse, When consumer decisions are moral decisions: Moral Foundations Theory and its implications for consumer psychology (January 18, 2024). Journal of Consumer Psychology, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4701497

Guilherme A. Ramos (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University ( email )

401 21st Ave S
Nashville, TN 37203
United States

Wayne Johnson

University of Utah ( email )

1645 E. Campus Center
Salt Lake City, UT 84112
United States

Eric VanEpps

Vanderbilt University - Owen Graduate School of Management ( email )

401 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203
United States

Jesse Graham

University of Utah - David Eccles School of Business ( email )

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