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Sustainability 2016, 8(7), 626; doi:10.3390/su8070626

The Ethical Judgment and Moral Reaction to the Product-Harm Crisis: Theoretical Model and Empirical Research

1
School of Business, Sichuan Normal University, Collaborative Innovation Center of Sichuan Social Credit System Construction, Chengdu 610101, China
2
School of Business, Macau University of Science and Technology, Taipa, Macau 999078, China
3
Management Board Office, Macao Polytechnic Institute, Macau 999078, China
4
School of Business and Hospitality Management, Caritas Institute of Higher Education, Tseung Kwan O, New Territories, Hong Kong 999077, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Tin-Chih Toly Chen
Received: 31 March 2016 / Revised: 28 June 2016 / Accepted: 29 June 2016 / Published: 2 July 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Competitive and Sustainable Manufacturing in the Age of Globalization)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [932 KB, uploaded 2 July 2016]   |  

Abstract

Based on the dual-process theory of ethical judgment, a research model is proposed for examining consumers’ moral reactions to a product-harm crisis. A national-wide survey was conducted with 801 respondents in China. The results of this study indicate that consumers will react to a product-harm crisis through controlled cognitive processing and emotional intuition. The results of the study also show that consumers view a product-harm crisis as an ethical issue, and they will make an ethical judgment according to the perceived severity and perceived relevance of the crisis. The ethical judgment in the perceived crisis severity and perceived crisis relevance will affect consumers’ condemning emotions in terms of contempt and anger. Through controlled cognitive processing, a personal consumption-related reaction (purchasing intention) is influenced by the perceived crisis severity. Furthermore, a social and interpersonal reaction (negative word of mouth) is influenced by the perceived crisis relevance through the controlled cognitive processing. This social and interpersonal reaction is also influenced by the perceived crisis severity and perceived crisis relevance through the intuition of other-condemning emotion. Moreover, this study finds that the product knowledge negatively moderates the impact of the perceived crisis severity on the condemning emotions. Therefore, when a consumer has a high level of product knowledge, the effect of perceived crisis severity on the condemning emotions will be attenuated, and vice versa. This study provides scholars and managers with means of understanding and handling of consumers’ reactions to a product-harm crisis. View Full-Text
Keywords: product-harm crisis; ethical judgment; condemning emotion; purchasing intention; negative word of mouth; product knowledge product-harm crisis; ethical judgment; condemning emotion; purchasing intention; negative word of mouth; product knowledge
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Lu, D.; Liu, Y.; Zhang, H.; Lai, I.K.W. The Ethical Judgment and Moral Reaction to the Product-Harm Crisis: Theoretical Model and Empirical Research. Sustainability 2016, 8, 626.

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