Do What Consumers Say Matter? The Misalignment of Preferences with Unconstrained Ethical Intentions

46 Pages Posted: 17 May 2006 Last revised: 12 Nov 2015

See all articles by Pat Auger

Pat Auger

University of Melbourne Business School

Timothy M. Devinney

University of Manchester - Alliance Manchester Business School

Date Written: April 1, 2006

Abstract

Nearly all studies of consumers willingness to engage in ethical or socially responsible purchasing behavior is based on unconstrained survey response methods. In the present paper we ask the question of how well does asking consumers the extent to which they care about a specific social or ethical issue relate to how they would behave in a more constrained environment where there is no socially acceptable response. The results of a comparison between traditional survey questions of intention to purchase and estimates of individuals willingness-to-pay for social attributes in products reveal that simple survey questions are too noisy to provide operationally meaningful information and overstate intentions to a considerable extent.

Keywords: ethical products, survey methods, willingness to pay

JEL Classification: M14, M31

Suggested Citation

Auger, Pat and Devinney, Timothy M., Do What Consumers Say Matter? The Misalignment of Preferences with Unconstrained Ethical Intentions (April 1, 2006). Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 76, No. 4, 2007, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=901861 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.901861

Pat Auger

University of Melbourne Business School ( email )

200 Leicester Street
Carlton, Victoria 3053 3186
Australia
+61 3 9349 8194 (Phone)
+61 3 9349 8133 (Fax)

Timothy M. Devinney (Contact Author)

University of Manchester - Alliance Manchester Business School ( email )

Booth Street West
Manchester, M15 6PB
United Kingdom

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