Association of Marketing Theory and Practice Proceedings 2011


Perception of Questionable Behaviors Undertaken by Consumers in the Marketplace: Does the Size of the Loss Impact the Level of Acceptance Associated with an Action?

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Conference Track

Service Marketing/ Non-Profit Marketing/ Ethics

Publication Date



A national sample of 815 adults drawn from the general American population provided their perceptions of the appropriateness of 12 questionable actions by consumers in the marketplace. The scenarios investigated ranged from illegal actions such as fraudulently inflating one’s losses when filing an insurance claim to actions such as purchasing an item that is obviously mispriced. While actions such as the latter may not be illegal, a question of ethics may still be raised by many outside observers. The 12 scenarios exhibited a wide range of mean responses on the six-point scale thereby supporting the oft-stated premise that consumer ethics is situational in nature. Furthermore, the results document a relationship between the extent to which an action is deemed to be unacceptable and the size of the loss incurred by the victimized organization. Thus, the research supports the premise that the degree of harm is a variable that mediates the perception of the inappropriateness of a consumer’s questionable action in the marketplace.

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Digital Commons@Georgia Southern License

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