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Welfare recipients seen as immoral for buying ethical products

Date:
March 8, 2016
Source:
University of British Columbia
Summary:
Shoppers making ethical purchases, such as buying organic food or environmentally friendly cars, are generally seen as more virtuous -- unless they're receiving government assistance. If ethical shopping is funded by welfare checks, those shoppers are judged as immoral for taking advantage of public generosity, according to a new study.
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Shoppers making ethical purchases, such as buying organic food or environmentally friendly cars, are generally seen as more virtuous -- unless they're receiving government assistance. If ethical shopping is funded by welfare cheques, those shoppers are judged as immoral for taking advantage of public generosity, according to a new UBC Sauder School of Business study.

"People on welfare tend to be seen as undeserving of more expensive options and of wasting taxpayers' hard-earned cash," said study author Darren Dahl, senior associate dean of faculty at UBC Sauder. "We discovered a double standard where people are judged differently for making identical choices, depending on where their money comes from."

Dahl and his co-authors were curious about the interaction between two prized values: making prosocial choices and thrift. They found that people reliant on government assistance are only praised when they're frugal, and are seen as less moral if they go for ethical but more expensive products.

In a series of five studies, more than 1,300 participants in the United States were asked to judge people on measures of morality based on their grocery lists (either including organic foods or not) or their chosen rental car (either environmentally friendly or not). When choosing a more expensive ethical product, those on welfare were seen as less moral while more wealthy shoppers were seen as more moral.

The fifth study found that people were also less likely to donate to a charity if the meals it provides are organic.


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Materials provided by University of British Columbia. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jenny G. Olson, Brent Mcferran, Andrea C. Morales, Darren W. Dahl. Wealth and Welfare: Divergent Moral Reactions to Ethical Consumer Choices. Journal of Consumer Research, 2016; ucv096 DOI: 10.1093/jcr/ucv096

Cite This Page:

University of British Columbia. "Welfare recipients seen as immoral for buying ethical products." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 March 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160308182813.htm>.
University of British Columbia. (2016, March 8). Welfare recipients seen as immoral for buying ethical products. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 26, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160308182813.htm
University of British Columbia. "Welfare recipients seen as immoral for buying ethical products." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160308182813.htm (accessed May 26, 2017).

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