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.
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