What makes us care? The impact of cultural values, individual factors, and attention to media content on motivation for ethical consumerism.Introduction
This study seeks to provide a deeper understanding of motivation for ethical consumerism and to determine whether it is influenced by cultural differences. Based on surveys conducted in Austria and South Korea, the authors analyze the impact of cultural values, psychologically derived factors (i.e., anticipated benefits and self-identity), and attention to media content on motivation for ethical consumerism. The results reveal significant cultural differences, with Austrian respondents showing higher motivation for ethical consumerism than their South Korean counterparts. Among cultural values (materialism and post-materialism), individual factors (emotional benefits, universal benefits, and self-identity), and attention to media content variables (both news and entertainment), post-materialism, self-identity, and attention to news media content were found to be significant predictors of motivation for ethical consumerism.
Ethical consumerism can be described as an expression of ethical concerns about products and organizations "by choosing to purchase a product that meets certain ethical standards, or by choosing not to purchase a product that fails to meet that criteria." (1) 'Ethical,' in this instance, does not simply cover environmental considerations; it includes "matters of conscience such as animal welfare and fair trade, social aspects such as labor standards, as well as more self-interested health concerns behind the growth of organic food sales." (2)
Across the globe, consumers are becoming more socially conscious and ethically concerned. Increasingly, they wish to purchase and use goods that demonstrate social and environmental responsibility (e.g., energy-saving light bulbs, organic food, and fair-trade coffee), and refuse to purchase products produced in 'sweatshops' (e.g., real animal fur coats or shoes). Commercial surveys provide empirical evidence that verifies this rise in ethical consumerism. In Europe, for example, a study by Ipsos-MORI, a British marketing research company, found that, in 2006, sixty-one percent of consumers in the United Kingdom agreed to buy fair-trade products where possible, up from forty-six percent a year earlier. (3) Similarly, the annual Co-operative Bank Ethical Consumerism Report showed that every household in the U.K., on average, spent 664 [pounds sterling] in accordance with their ethical values in 2006 as compared to 366 [pounds sterling] in 2002. (4) Within a more global context, a 2005 General Market Institute poll across seventeen countries (including Australia, China, India, Japan, the United States, and several European countries) indicated that consumers worldwide expressed a growing interest in environmentally friendly and socially responsible consumption. According to these findings, fifty-four percent of consumers were prepared to pay more for environmentally friendly or fair-trade products. In each country, most consumers favored ethical consumerism. Surprisingly, in the lesser developed of these countries, China and India, ninety-one and seventy-one percent of consumers, respectively, were willing to pay more for socially responsible products. (5) These polls demonstrate that while consumers' awareness of ethical issues in trade and consumption is increasing, "awareness and concern are not directly translated into ethical purchase behavior." (6) Given these findings, it is important to examine motivation for ethical consumerism in order to determine which behavior is chosen and why. (7)
Little is known about what influences consumers' motivation for ethical consumption choices. Ethical consumerism, in fact, is a complex phenomenon related a number of possible factors. As Terry Newholm, a lecturer in consumer theory, international business, and strategy at the University of Manchester, and Deidre Shaw, a senior lecturer in consumer lifestyles and behavior at the University of Glosgow, point out, "much work remains in exploring, comparing and theorizing the everyday ethics of consumption across a range of cultures." (8) With the rise of globalization, it is essential to understand, not just from a theoretical perspective but also from a marketer's vantage point, how ethical interpretations and actions might differ in various consumer markets around the world. (9) To achieve that understanding, this study takes a cross-cultural approach, comparing an Asian consumer culture, South Korea, with a European consumer culture, Austria. The authors have chosen to examine these two countries, which have strongly perceived cultural differences and have never been compared in terms of motivation for ethical consumerism, in order to enhance the existing body of cross-cultural consumer literature. Despite differences in their cultural background, both countries represent advanced industrial democracies that have undertaken unique governmental initiatives to promote ethical consumption. South Korea was the first country to mandate that public agencies purchase only environmentally friendly products. Austria was the first member of the European Union to establish a statutory genetically modified free zone. (10)
Consumer behavior literature maintains that consumers can be motivated to make socially conscious consumption decisions on the basis of what effect their behavior might have on the environment or other people. Such consumers can be driven by the universal outcome or impact their decisions might initiate. The authors of this study define such anticipation of benefits that serve the greater good as universal benefits. Perceived individual benefits also play a significant role in consumers' ethical decision-making. Consumers might anticipate self-expressive benefits or an emotional state of well-being to result from their 'doing-good.' (11) Previous studies suggest that a consumer's approach to ethical consumption is a "vehicle for moral self-realization" guided by self-identification with ethical issues. (12) By extending existing literature from green to ethical consumerism, this study addresses the more self-centered aspects behind ethical consumerism, as well as cultural factors and attention to media content that have influenced the rise in such behavior.
According to Andrew Crane and Dirk Matten, both scholars of corporate responsibility issues at York University, ethical consumerism involves a conscious choice to use products selectively based on personal and moral beliefs and values. (13) Naomi Klein, an award-winning syndicated columnist, describes ethical consumerism as a response to "the corporate hijacking of political power," and to the "brands' cultural looting of public and mental space." (14) The concept emerged from the environmental movement and green consumerism. (15) Green consumerism, in general, refers to consumer choices based on ecological concerns such as environmental protection or organic food production. Ethical consumerism, by contrast, include a wider range of issues that can add significantly to the complexity of consumer decisions. (16)
Michelle Micheletti, Lars Hierta Chair of Political Science at Stockholm University, and Deitland Stolle, a professor of political science at MeGill University, present three different forms of ethical consumerism: boycotts, buycotts, and discursive ethical consumerism. Whereas boycotting refers to the act of rejecting or not choosing products that fail to meet certain ethical and social standards, buycotting is defined as choosing products associated with such standards. Discursive ethical consumerism does not focus on influencing corporate practice by buying or not buying a certain product. Rather, it targets other vulnerable points within corporations, namely, their image, brand name, reputation, and logo. (17) This study examines the first two forms of ethical consumerism.
Historically, the boycott, also referred to as 'negative ethical purchase behavior,' has been the main form of ethical consumerism. Nowadays, boycotts, such as the 'Stop Bottle Baby Deaths' boycott of all Nestle products or the 'Don't' Buy E$$O' boycott of the Esso/ Exxon Corporation, are organized by nongovernmental organizations. These 'institutionalized' boycotts normally come about "to protest [an] industry's involvement in human rights violations; discrimination of minority groups, homosexuals, women, and indigenous peoples; environmental destruction; animal rights; and, unfair trade practices toward developing countries." (18) Such boycotts are effective when: (a) publicity for the boycott cause is achieved; (b) the producer is blamed and punished; and, (c) producers comply with boycott demands. (19)
Other boycotts occur at the individual level, reflecting a consumer's personal choice of avoiding goods and services associated with certain topics (e.g., animal testing, genetically modified food, racial or gender discrimination, and mistreatment of the labor force). (20) In such instances, consumers seek to promote their family's interests, which might result in a greater willingness to boycott harmful products and press producers to adopt changes in manufacturing practices. (21)
Buycott, also referred to as 'positive ethical purchase behavior,' is seen by many consumer activists as the "flip side of boycotts, [that is, an attempt] to induce shoppers to buy the products or services of selected companies in order to reward them for behavior, which is consistent with the goals of the activists." (22) Micheletti and Stolle define 'buycotts' as politically motivated shopping. (23) For example, in the early twentieth century the White Label Campaign urged American women to buy cotton underwear for themselves and for their children that was certified 'sweatshop free.' (24) This led to improvements in factory workplace safety and the condition of labor (i.e., increased wages, reduced hours, and benefits). (25) The buycott has also been viewed as an organized consumer action favoring the purchase of certain products. (26) This study focuses on the buycott as an individual choice to purchase goods with ethical attributes.
Motivation for Ethical Consumerism
At present, research on motivation for ethical consumerism is limited. Among the few existing studies, Stolle, Hooghe, and Micheletti assert that ethical consumerism does not reflect a selfless phenomenon because ethical consumers consider self-interests, such as their own and their families' health or the price and quality of goods, when they shop. (27) Oliver Freestone and Peter McGoldrick, who both study retailing, suggest that measuring consumers' perceived positive and negative motives is a "logical step in understanding the motivation for ethical behavior." (28) According to marketing scholars Jill Gabrielle Klein and N. Craig Smith, and Andrew John, the managing director of AJK Executive, four factors shape boycott participation: the desire to make a difference; the scope for self-enhancement; counterarguments that inhibit boycotting; and, the cost to the boycotter of constrained consumption. (29) These studies, however, were conducted in a single-culture setting, lacking insight in a more global context. Furthermore, they focused on antecedents of motivation rather than on the construct itself. This study concentrates on the construct and tests it in a cross-cultural setting.
Culture and Consumption Behavior
Henry Asseal, a professor of marketing at New York University's Stern School of Business, cites culture as the strongest environmental factor that influences purchasing behavior because it reflects the values consumers learn from society. (30) Cultural differences, which affect consumers' attitudes and behavior, possibly impact how they set priorities in dealing with ethical issues. (31) Russell Belk, N. Eldon Turner Professor of Business at the University of Utah, Timothy Devinney, a professor of management at the Australian Graduate School of Management, and Glenn Eckhardt, a senior lecturer of marketing at the Australian Graduate School of Management, maintain that "due to varying conceptions of what is good for the individual and what is good for society, the judgment of what constitutes an ethical breach in the first place would be expected to vary greatly depending on cultural orientation." (32)
Even though some cross-cultural comparative studies have tried to prove a connection between ethical values and consumer decision-making, (33) there is little research that examines the dimensions of ethical consumption choices relevant to issues of environmental, political, and social concern to consumers. To be sure, there have been some cross-cultural empirical studies on ethical consumerism. (34) For example, Belk, Devinney, and Eckhardt, relying on in-depth interviews and projective methods, compared consumers' concern for ethical issues across eight countries (Austria, China, Germany, India, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, and the United States). They found a general lack of concern about ethical issues such as harm to the environment, poor labor conditions or counterfeit goods. There were few differences between cultures in terms of consumers' concern for ethical consumption. (35) Using a sample drawn from twenty-eight countries to determine the effect of culture on consumers' willingness to punish unethical firms, Geoffrey Williams, a professor at the School of Management at the University of Bath, and John Zinkin, a visiting fellow at the International Centre of Corporate Social Responsibility in the Business School at Nottingham University, have concluded that:
[d]ifferences in consumer behavior across countries do indeed appear to be consistent with differences in the cultures of these countries.... [C]onsumers in countries where individualism is strong tend to punish firms more often for bad behavior than those in countries in which collective attitudes are more prevalent. (36)
Although some relationship between culture and consumers' concerns for ethical issues has been found, existing studies have not adequately explained the connection between culture and ethical consumerism. Moreover, researchers have not addressed the impact of culture-based ethical values on motivation for ethical consumerism.
Culture as Shared Values
Political scientist Ronald Inglehart has conducted extensive research concerning a cultural concept known as post-materialism. (37) He hypothesized that, throughout advanced societies, peoples' value priorities shifted from materialism toward post-materialism. (38) Whereas materialism refers to the value placed on the acquisition of material objects, (39) post-materialism represents values that emphasize environmental protection, sense of community, tolerance and inclusion of minorities, concern over quality of life, self-actualization, human rights, sustainable development, and demands for choice among products and services. (40) Post-materialism, however, does not mean anti-materialism. "[A] post-materialist places higher priorities on post-materialistic values, not necessarily negative values on material goals." (41) Previous studies concerning ethical consumerism indicate an overall negative correlation between consumers' materialism and boycotting. (42) By contrast, post-materialist values are generally believed to be positively related with ethical consumption behavior. (43) These findings lead the authors of this study to hypothesize that:
H1: Post-materialism will be positively related to motivation for ethical consumerism.
H2: Materialism will be negatively related to motivation for ethical consumerism.
Drawing upon previous empirical research, it is expected that the more materialistic the culture, the lower the motivation for ethical consumerism; the more post-materialistic the culture, the higher the motivation for ethical consumerism. According to World Value Survey (WVS) data collected between 1982 and 2001, Austria can neither be characterized as a materialistic nor as a post-materialistic culture. Rather, it represents a mixed type of culture, emphasizing both materialistic and post-materialistic values. However, since post-materialistic values are predominant in the 15-49 age group, Austria can be defined as a non-materialistic culture. South Korea unequivocally reflects a materialistic culture across all age groups. (44) These observations lead to the following hypothesis:
H3: Consumers from non-materialistic cultures are more likely to show higher motivation for ethical consumerism than those from materialistic cultures.
According to psychologist Shalom H. Schwartz's norm-activation theory, pro-environmental behavior is more probable when a person is aware of the harmful consequences to others from a condition of the environment, and when that individual ascribes responsibility to him/herself to alleviate that dangerous situation. By doing so, that individual experiences a sense of moral obligation to protect others from experiencing the harmful consequences arising from that environmental condition. (45) Schwartz's model assumes that "people have a general value orientation toward the welfare of others, [that is,] they value outcomes that benefit others and can be motivated to act to prevent harm to others." (46) This emotional state of preference for the well-being of others is normally referred to as altruism. Altruism has been shown to be a relatively important predictor of green consumer behavior; consumers choose green brands because they are interested in the objective environmental impact of their decision or its beneficial outcomes for others. (47) The authors of this study define such anticipated benefits for the greater good as "universal benefits."
Some consumers make ethical consumption choices not because they are interested in securing universal benefits, but because they want to feel better about themselves. (48) They experience personal satisfaction by contributing to the improvement of environmental issues. Their motivation is driven by an anticipated feeling of well-being that several scholars refer to as a "warm glow." (49) This "impure form of altruism" generally describes a good feeling derived from the act of giving. (50)
Another form of emotional benefit derived from ethical purchasing behavior is based on social factors. Economists Frank Belz and Thomas Dyllik argue that consumers may experience auto-expressive benefits through the socially visible consumption of green brands. For some consumers, purchasing a green brand in public may bring some individual benefit because it allows them to demonstrate their environmental consciousness to others. (51) Studies dealing with emotional benefits in ethical consumption situations mainly concentrate on green purchasing behavior. But, as noted earlier, a differentiation between green consumerism and ethical consumerism in general terms is important since ethical consumers, in addition to environmental issues, are concerned about animal issues, irresponsible selling, armaments, and oppressive regimes. (52)
As the literature review demonstrates, consumers can be motivated to make green consumption decisions on the basis of the impact that choice may have on the environment or other individuals. They may anticipate a universal positive benefit from their decision. Consumers might also make green purchase decisions based on self-centered considerations. In other words, they might anticipate an emotional state of well-being resulting from their 'doing-good,' or they might expect self-expressive benefits by knowing that
their green consumption is witnessed by others. Relationships regarding motivation for ethical consumerism can be hypothesized as follows:
H4: Universal benefits will be positively related to motivation for ethical consumerism.
H5: Emotional benefits will be positively related to motivation for ethical consumerism.
Self-identity constitutes an important influence on behavior. (53) According to psychologist Paul Sparks, self-identity is perception of the self, or, to put it another way, "the relatively enduring characteristics that people ascribe to themselves...." (54) The concept of self-identity is relevant to consumer research because when an issue becomes central to an individual's self-identity, behavioral intention is adjusted accordingly. Within the context of ethical consumerism, consumers might make ethical consumption choices when ethical issues become a significant part of their self-identity. (55)
In their study on fair-trade coffee, Shaw, Shiu, and Clarke investigated the effects of self-identity on consumers' choices. To access an appropriate group of consumers who adopted strong ethical stances, they focused on subscribers to British Ethical Consumer magazine. Their results show that self-identity was a significant factor predicting behavioral intention. (56) Shaw, Shui, and Clarke concluded that:
While many consumers acting in a rational self-motivated manner may select coffee on the basis of factors such as price and taste, those concerned about ethical issues may be guided by a sense of [...] identification with ethical issues, where concerns such as providing a fair price for fair trade producers take priority. For these consumers, their overall intention to purchase fair trade products has less to do with self-motivated concerns, but rather is driven by a sense of [...] their identity with the issue. (57)
However, Shaw, Shui and Clarke's study focused only on a group of ethical consumers who characterized themselves as such. The consumer research field still needs to address self-identity with ethical issues and its effect on behaviors and attitudes through the use of more general population samples. Previous research indicates that consumers' identification with ethical issues might adjust their behavioral intention. One can assume that consumers who perceive themselves as being concerned about several issues, such as environmental protection, human rights, and animal welfare, will demonstrate high levels of motivation for ethical consumerism. This leads to the following hypothesis:
H6: Ethical self-identity will be positively related to motivation for ethical consumerism.
Attention to Media Content
Some research has shown that individuals' pro-environmental consumer behaviors are related to their media use, particularly their news media use. Mass media, particularly news media content, "may encourage social consciousness in consumer culture by helping to create more informed individuals." (58) For example, green consumerism is strongly related with news media use. (59) Lance Holbert, Nojin Kwak, and Dharvan Shah, all specialists in communication studies, have examined the relationship between environmental concern, five different forms of television programming (public affairs, nature documentaries, situation comedies, progressive dramas, and traditional dramas), and pro-environmental behavior. They found a distinct difference between direct effects of factual-versus fictional-based television use with actual-based television use (including news media) being a significant positive predictor of pro-environmental behavior. Fictional-based television use was not a significant predictor of pro-environmental behavior. Furthermore, news media use was one of the mediators between environmental attitudes and behaviors "[that] create a strong total positive effect of the former on the latter." (60) Other studies have shown that news media content does not merely inform environmental issues; it also provides insight into nonprofit organizations and corporate social responsibility of various companies. Consequently, news media use can be positively related to both pro-environmental behavior and ethical consumerism. (61) The authors of this study, in an effort to clarify the relationship between attention to both news and entertainment media content and motivation for ethical consumerism, test the following hypotheses:
H7: Attention to news media content will be positively related to motivation for ethical consumerism.
H8: Attention to entertainment media content will be negatively related to motivation for ethical consumerism.
Based on the literature review and hypotheses offered above, one might expect that the conjoined independent variables (i.e., post-materialism, materialism, emotional benefits, universal benefits, self-identity, news media use, and entertainment media use) will influence motivation for ethical consumerism. This produces the following research question:
RQ: To what degree do the seven variables (post-materialism, materialism, emotional benefits, universal benefits, self-identity, news media attention, and entertainment media attention) predict motivation for ethical consumerism?
Choice of Countries
Most cross-cultural consumer research offers little justification for country selection. Countries selected for these studies were expected to be either similar or dissimilar. (62) Some were chosen simply because no one had ever studied those countries; others were selected to add to information already acquired on those countries. (63) In choosing the countries for this study, the authors were guided by two factors: the strongly perceived cultural differences between Austria and South Korea, and their wish to expand the existing body of cross-cultural consumer research on motivation for ethical consumerism to cover two countries that have never been compared. Equally important, Austria and South Korea represent interesting case studies regarding their history of consumer activism, consumption-related policies, and recent market trends.
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Austria's concern for ecological issues and responsible consumption is rooted in the emergence of the environmental movement and subsequent rise of the Green Party during the 1970s. In 1978, members of the newly formed party spearheaded the adoption of a referendum that shut down a recently completed nuclear power plant, which turned the country away from nuclear energy. Six years later, public protests stopped the planned construction of a hydroelectric power plant in a wetlands region. Since then, several organizational and legislative steps have been taken to promote ethical finance, fair trade, and responsible consumption. In 1991, for example, the Austrian government introduced Umweltzeichen, a public eco-label for environmentally friendly products. (64) Since then, fair trade has become part of Austria's development policy, resolutions against genetically modified organisms have been adopted, and a law that promotes sustainable energy has been implemented. (65) Austrian consumers' concern for ethical products is further evident in a 1997 referendum in which 1.2 million citizens voted against the release of genetically modified organisms into the environment. (66)
South Korea represents a rapidly growing consumer market in Asia, where public discourse about ethical consumption choices is still in its infancy. Whereas the South Korean eco-labeling program (Korea Eco-Label) was established in 1992 under the direction of the Ministry of the Environment, fair trade was not introduced in that country until a decade later. Nevertheless, consumer activism in South Korea has a rather long history, beginning as an anti-colonial social movement that has evolved into a number of interest groups that target consumers' interests at both individual and societal levels. (67) In 2008, several large street protests were triggered by the government's decision to allow the resumption of U.S. beef imports following a suspension of such trade due to the outbreak of 'mad cow disease' in the United States. South Korean consumers complained that the deal compromised public health standards. (68) Recent government initiatives have tried to raise South Korean consumers' awareness about ethical consumerism. The government has announced plans to promote environment-friendly and cutting-edge technologies, promising a total investment of 287 trillion won (US$ 220 billion) by 2013. The Eco-Product Promotion Law enacted in 2004, and revised in 2009, makes South Korea the first country to mandate that public agencies purchase only environmentally friendly products. (69) This has produced a substantial increase in South Korea's environmentally friendly product market. According to a market trend analysis conducted by Klean Industries in 2009, the total environmentally friendly product market in South Korea is estimated at 12 trillion won (US$12 billion). By 2007, purchases of these products by public agencies had reached 1.3 trillion won (US$ 1.3 billion), a substantial increase from 250 billion won (US$ 250 million) two years earlier. (70)
The authors of this study conducted surveys in Austria and South Korea to examine the impact of cultural values on motivation for ethical consumption. The survey questionnaire, first written in English, was translated into German for Austrian respondents by one of the authors whose native language is German, and into Korean for the South Korean group by the second author, whose native language is Korean. The surveys were administered in May 2009 to South Korean and Austrian undergraduate and graduate students residing in Seoul and Vienna, respectively. The samples were recruited through the use of snowball sampling method. (71) A total of 421 students answered the survey; 211 from Austria and 210 from South Korea. The use of student samples can be justified based on the comparative character of this study. Since comparative cross-cultural research is concerned with comparing attitudes and behavior in two or more cultural contexts, this type of research clearly favors between-country comparability. (72) Hence, the samples used here should ensure that any differences observed are not due to sample differences. (73) The use of student samples in this study is therefore appropriate to maximize the comparability between Austria and South Korea.
The survey used in this study consisted of thirty-three questions designed to examine the following variables: (a) demographic information (i.e., age, gender, country of origin, education level of father, religion, and family income), (b) cultural values, (c) anticipated benefits, (d) ethical self-identity, (e) media use, and (f) motivation for ethical consumerism. Cultural values were operationalized in accordance with Inglehart's materialism/post-materialism measures. (74) Based on a WVS conducted in 2006, participants in this survey were asked to respond to a four-part question: "How important is each of these goals to you? (a) Maintaining order in the nation; (b) fighting rising prices; (c) giving people greater input in important government decisions; and, (d) protecting freedom of speech." In measuring the responses, the authors used a 5-point scale, assigning scores ranging from I for 'not at all important' to 5 for 'very important.'
Anticipated benefits variables included two concepts: emotional benefits and universal benefits. To measure emotional benefits, participants in the survey were asked the following questions: (1) "I feel better about myself if I take some form of action against firms that violate: (a) the environment, (b) human rights, and (c) animal rights"; (2) "I feel good if other people perceive me as a person who is concerned with: (a) the environment, (b) human rights, and (c) animal rights." To measure universal benefits, respondents were asked to complete the following statement: "Society would benefit from the removal of products that violate: (a) the environment, (b) human rights, and (c) animal rights." Again, the authors used a 5-point scale to measure responses with a score of I indicating 'strongly disagree' and 5 'strongly agree.'
Ethical self-identity was measured based on queries derived from studies conducted by psychologists Paul Sparks and Richard Shepherd. (75) Respondents were asked to complete the following statements: "I think of myself as someone who is concerned with: (a) the environment, (b) animal welfare, (c) fair trade, (d) human rights, (e) organic food"; and, "I think of myself as a consumer who: (a) purchases goods that can demonstrate environmental responsibility, (b) purchases goods that can demonstrate social responsibility."
Based on a study by journalism scholars Mia Sotirovic and Jack M. McLeod, two types of attention to media content (news and entertainment) were measured. (76) A three-part question was used to measure attention to news media content: "When you are watching or reading the news and come across the following kinds of stories, how much attention do you pay to them? (a) International affairs, (b) government and politics, and (c) sociopolitical issues." The following question was used to measure attention to entertainment media content: "When you are watching television and come across the following content, how much attention do you pay to them? (a) situation comedies, and (b) crime and drama." Both sets of responses were measured on a 5-point scale, ranging from a score of 1 for 'little attention' to 5 for 'very close attention.'
Finally, motivation for ethical consumerism was operationalized as a willingness to either purchase or boycott a product. Respondents were asked two questions: "How willing are you to purchase products with ethical features?" and, "How willing are you to boycott products without ethical features?" Correlations, multiple regressions, and independent sample t-tests were conducted to answer the research question and hypotheses posed earlier in this study.
The reliabilities of the scales used in this study (post-materialism, materialism, emotional benefits, universal benefits, self-identity, news media use, and entertainment media use) were evaluated using Cronbach's alpha. (77) The general criteria of Cronbach's alpha should be greater than .60 and inter-item correlation should score more than .30. (78) The post-materialism scale demonstrated adequate internal consistency ([alpha] -.61) and inter-item correlations (r > .30), as did the materialism scale ([alpha] = .65, r >.30). Both subscales for anticipated benefits--emotional and universal benefits--demonstrate good internal consistency, with Cronbach's alpha scores of .87 and .80, respectively. Inter-item correlations for emotional benefits scored at .53, universal benefits at .60. Self-identity showed good internal consistency ([alpha] = .84) and inter-item correlation (r > .30). The items for attention to news media content were reliable measures ([alpha] = .66, r > .30), as were those regarding entertainment media content ([alpha] = .64, r > .30). The items measuring motivation for ethical consumerism showed adequate reliability with Cronbach's alpha of 0.60 and inter-item correlation of .40.
The final sample consisted of 421 respondents, 211 from Austria and 210 from South Korea. The average age of the respondents in the Austrian sample was 25.7; 25.1 for the South Korean sample. Sixty-three percent of respondents in the Austrian sample were female as compared to fifty-two percent in the South Korean sample. In the South Korean sample, more than forty percent of the respondents' fathers were college graduates (42.4%) (high school graduates: 36.2%; middle school: 9.5%; graduate school: 9.5%; elementary school: 2.4%). Among respondents in the Austrian sample, thirty-nine percent of their fathers were college graduates (high school graduates: 33.6%; middle school: 23.2%; graduate school: 1.4%; elementary school: 2.7%). In terms of religion, 50.5% of the South Korean sample expressed no religious affiliation (Christian: 26.2%; Catholic: 10.5%; Buddhist: 10%; Other: 2.9%), whereas 60.7 % of the Austrian sample identified themselves as Catholic (no religious affiliation: 25.5%; Christian: 9.0%; Buddhist: 0.5%; Other: 3.3%). The family income variable was measured according to eight different income groups ranging from 'less than 1 million won (South Korea)/1,000 euro (Austria)' to 'more than 8 million won (South Korea)/8,000 euro (Austria) per month.' The results in the South Korean sample were as follows: less than 1 million won: 5.3%; 1 million to less than 4 million: 37.5%; 4 million to less than 6 million: 24.0%; 6 million to less than 8 million: 14.9%; 8 million or more: 18.3%. The results in the Austrian sample were as follows: less than 1,000 euro: 13.2%; 1,000 to less than 4,000: 66.4%; 4,000 to less than 6,000: 14.7%; 6,000 to less than 8,000: 1.4%; 8,000 or more: 4.3%.
In regard to cultural values, independent sample t-tests showed significant differences between Austrian and South Korean respondents: Austrian respondents held higher post-materialistic values (M = 4.31, SD = 1.609; t = -2.8, p <.001) and lower materialistic values (M = 3.72, SD = 1.726; t = 5.28, p < .001) than did South Korean respondents (post-materialism: M = 4.12, SD = 1.374; materialism: M = 4.10, SD = 1.260).
Whereas H1 held that post-materialism would be positively related to motivation for ethical consumerism, H2 expected that materialism would be negatively related to motivation for ethical consumerism. Correlation analyses showed a positive relationship between post-materialism and motivation for ethical consumerism (r = .35, p < .001). Thus, HI is supported by the findings of this study. Materialism, on the other hand, did not show a significant correlation with motivation for ethical consumerism (r = .083, p = not statistically significant). Consequently, H2 is not supported by the findings of this study.
H3 proposed that Austrian respondents would be more likely to show higher motivation for ethical consumerism than South Korean respondents. T-test results indicate that Austrian respondents showed significantly higher motivation for ethical consumerism (M = 3.94, SD = 1.519) than did their South Korean counterparts (M = 3.56, SD = 1.485) (t = -5.2, p < .001). Thus, H3 is supported by the findings of this study.
H4 and H5 presupposed that emotional and universal benefits would be positively related to motivation for ethical consumerism. Based on correlation analyses, both variables showed positive, significant correlations (emotional benefit: r = .339, p < .001; universal benefit: r = .324, p < .001). Thus, H4 and H5 are also supported by the findings of this study.
H6 anticipated a positive relation between ethical self-identity and motivation for ethical consumerism. Results indicated a significant correlation between the two variables (r = .53, p < .01). Hence, H6 is supported by the findings of this study.
Whereas H7 expected a positive relationship between attention to news media content and motivation for ethical consumerism, H8 predicted a negative relationship between attention to entertainment media content and motivation for ethical consumerism. While attention to entertainment media content in this study did not show significant correlation (r = -.06, p = not statistically significant), attention to news media content did (r =.302, p < .001). Both hypotheses are supported by the findings in this study.
Finally, the RQ asked to what degree all seven variables could predict motivation for ethical consumerism. To answer that query, the authors conducted multiple regressions. Three of the seven variables--self-identity (beta = .468, p < .001), post-materialism (beta = .104, p < .05), and attention to news media content (beta = .107, p < .05)--were significant predictors of motivation for ethical consumerism. Overall, the model explained thirty percent of the variance in motivation for ethical consumerism (Adjusted [R.sup.2] = .300) with a significant F ratio (< .001) (See Table 1).
The authors of this study also conducted a regression analysis separately for the Austrian and South Korean samples to determine whether there were differences between the two cultures. For the Austrian sample, three variables--self-identity (beta = .576, p < .001), attention to news media content (beta =. 169, p < .05), and emotional benefits (beta = -.222, p < .05)--were significant predictors of motivation for ethical consumerism. Only two variables--self-identity (beta = .417, p < .001) and post-materialism (beta = .174, p < .05)--were significant predictors of motivation for ethical consumerism in the South Korean sample (See Table 2).
This study investigated the impact of cultural values (post-materialism and materialism), anticipated benefits (emotional and universal), self-identity, and attention to the media content (news and entertainment) on motivation for ethical consumerism. Its results were mixed. While the combined predictors explained thirty percent of the variance in the criterion variable, only three of the seven predictors showed statistical significance: self-identity, post-materialism, and news media use best predicted motivation for ethical consumerism.
In terms of cultural values, post-materialism was positively related to motivation for ethical consumerism. This implies that individuals who emphasize post-materialistic values are highly motivated to purchase ethically aligned products or to boycott products that do not meet certain ethical criteria. This finding confirms that of Stolle, Hooghe, and Micheletti, who emphasize the importance of post-modernization and post-materialism in relation to ethical consumption behavior. (79) Although materialism was expected to be negatively related to motivation for ethical consumerism, it did not show such a relationship with the criterion variable. This result contradicts the findings of Austin, Plouffe, Peters, and Peters, as well as that of Kozinets, who both find negative correlations between consumers' level of materialism and boycotting behavior. (80) Taking into consideration that this study did not simply focus on boycott but also on 'buycott' motivation, and the fact that someone who places a high worth on post-materialistic values does not necessarily place negative values on material goals, (81) the following assumption can be made: Materialism may be negatively related to boycott behavior, but it could also have a positive influence on 'buycott' behavior. Due to the lack of theoretical foundation and empirical research concerning 'buycotting,' no conclusive statements can be offered here. Further research is needed to shed more light on this matter.
This study also found that there is a difference in motivation for ethical consumerism based on culture. Austrian respondents showed significantly higher levels of motivation for ethical consumerism than did their South Korean counterparts. Existing literature that addresses cultural differences in ethics and ethical consumer behavior report mixed results: Some studies argue that there are no significant cultural differences, whereas others have found the complete opposite to hold true. (82) The findings of this study support the latter argument. Nevertheless, much work remains to be done in studying ethical consumerism across a larger range of cultures as opposed to focusing on affluent countries.
Overall, anticipated benefits did not significantly predict motivation for ethical consumerism. Interestingly, a significant negative relationship between emotional benefits and motivation was evident within the Austrian sample. It is possible that anticipation of personal satisfaction through ethical consumption can be seen as psychological egoism. (83) Egoism, as a function of egoistic values, has been shown to have a negative effect on ethical consumption behavior such as purchasing recycled products, energy efficient cars or organic food. (84) Future studies should explore egoism, altruism, and anticipated benefits in greater detail in order to construct a measurement instrument that clarifies the relationship between motivation for ethical consumerism and a wider range of emotional variables.
Self-identity proved to be a significant predictor of motivation for ethical consumerism. This confirms previous research by Shaw, Shiu, and Clarke, as well as that of Shaw and Shiu, which found that when an ethical issue becomes central to a person's self-identity, consumption choices are adjusted accordingly. (85)
In regard to attention to media content, attention to entertainment media content did not predict motivation for ethical consumerism. Attention to news media content, however, was positively related with ethical consumerism motivation. This implies that individuals attentive to news media content are concerned about ethical issues in their consumption choices. As some studies indicate, news media content might encourage environmental and social consciousness in consumer culture by helping to create more informed individuals. (86) In other words, when consumers are attentive to news programs, their knowledge about social and ethical issues might increase. This may produce high motivation for ethical consumerism among such individuals.
Study Limitations and Suggestions for Future Research
There are several limitations in this study that must be acknowledged. First, consumer responses in Austria and South Korea were derived from student samples. While the choice of using these samples guaranteed comparability between the sub-samples, future research should consider the use of a general population sample. Second, since certain report biases were not controlled for, the results of this study must be interpreted with caution. The validity of all questionnaire-based research is threatened by self-report bias, that is, the tendency for a participant to intentionally report information inaccurately due to the nature of the information asked for, the sensitivity of that information, the dispositional characteristics of the individual or the situational characteristics of the research. (87) This could be a potentially serious problem for research on ethical consumerism given the sensitivity of the issues under investigation and the obvious intent of the researcher to tap into ethical attitudes and behavior. (88) Respondents may want to edit their private judgment before they report it to the researcher due to concerns about social desirability and self-presentation. However, given that most questionnaires were administered online, the anonymity of the respondents guaranteed in this study would likely minimize the potential for self-report bias.
Prospective studies employing samples from more countries will help elucidate cross-cultural differences in ethical consumption behavior. Much work remains to be done on the topic across a larger range of cultures (aside from affluent countries), ethical issues, and product categories.
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(10) The European Commission, however, ruled that governments which tried to ban genetically modified crops would be in breach of EU law. The term genetically modified free zone refers to a region where the cultivation of genetically modified crops is banned in an effort to protect conventional and organic crops, as well as wildlife, from potential contamination.
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(26) Ibid.; Friedman, "A Positive Approach to Organized Consumer Action," 439-51.
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(31) Shaw and Clarke, "Culture, Consumption, and Choice," 163-68.
(32) Belk, Devinney, and Eckhardt, "Consumer Ethics across Cultures," 279.
(33) Mohammed Y.A. Rawwas, Gordon L. Patzer, and Scott J. Vitell, "A Cross-Cultural Investigation of the Ethical Values of Consumers: The Potential Effect of War and Civil Disruption," Journal of Business Ethics 17, no. 4 (March 1998):435-48; Dong Shen and Marsha A. Dickson, "Consumers' Acceptance of Unethical Clothing Consumption Activities: Influence of Cultural Identification, Ethnicity, and Machiavellianism," Clothing and Textiles Research Journal 19 (March 2001):76-87.
(34) Pat Auger, Paule Burke, Timothy M. Devinney, and Jordan J. Louviere, "What Will Consumers Pay for Social Product Features?" Journal of Business Ethics 42 (February 2003):281-304; Auger, Devinney, and Louviere, "Measuring the Importance of Ethical Consumerism," in Controversies in International Corporate Responsibility, eds. Hooker, Hulpke, and Madsen, 207-21; Belk, Devinney, and Eckhardt, "Consumer Ethics across Cultures," 275-89; Stolle, Hooghe, and Micheletti, "Politics in the Supermarket," 245-69.
(35) Belk, Devinney, and Eckhardt, "Consumer Ethics across Cultures," 275-89. Participants were presented with scenarios that addressed different ethical situations. The questions asked of the participants after they read the scenarios began in a projective manner and then narrowed to specific queries. The projective questions allowed respondents to tell the interviewer how they thought people from their country would respond to the issue involved in the scenario.
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(42) Graham Austin, Caroline Plouffe, Christopher R. Peters, and Cara Peters, "AntiCommercial Consumer Rebellion: Conceptualisation and Measurement," Journal of Targeting, Measurement and Analysis for Marketing 14, no. 1 (December 2005):62-78. See also James A. Muncy and Jacqueline K. Eastman, "Materialism and Consumer Ethics: An Exploratory Study" Journal of Business Ethics 17, no. 2 (January 1998): 137-45.
(43) Stolle, Hooghe, and Micheletti, "Politics in the Supermarket," 245-69.
(44) In regard to characterizing Austria as a non-materialistic culture, the average age of Austrians is 42.2 years. See Statistics Austria, 2011, "Population according to age and gender," http://www.statistik.at/web_de/statistiken/bevoelkerun_g/ bevoelkerungsstruktur/ bevoelkerun nach alter eschlecht/index.html (accessed January 30, 2011), 1. For information showing South Korea as a material culture, see World Values Survey, 2006, "Online Data Analysis-Value Survey Databank: Selected Samples/ Countries: South Korea," http://www.wvsevsdb.com/wvs/WVSAnalize.jsp?Idioma=l (accessed May 10, 2009), 1.
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(53) See, for example, Ibid.
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(55) Shaw, Shiu, and Clarke, "The Contribution of Ethical Obligation and Self-Identity to the Theory of Planned Behavior," 879-94; Shaw and Shiu, "Ethics in Consumer Choice," 1485-98.
(56) Shaw, Shiu, and Clarke, "The Contribution of Ethical Obligation and Self-Identity to the Theory of Planned Behavior," 879-94.
(57) Ibid., 889.
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(61) Keum, Devanathan, Deshpande, Nelson, and Shah, "The Citizen-Consumer," 369-91.
(62) See, for example, Rawwas, Patzer, and Vitell, "A Cross-Cultural Investigation of the Ethical Values of Consumers," 435-48; Anusorn Singhapakdi, Mohammed Y.A. Rawwas, Janet K. Marta, and Mohd Ismail Ahmed, "A Cross-Cultural Study of Consumer Perceptions about Marketing Ethics," Journal of Consumer Marketing 16, no. 3 (1999):257-72.
(63) See, for example, Peter Meso, Philip Musa, and Victor Mbarika, "Towards a Model of Consumer Use of Mobile Information and Communication Technology in LCDs: The Case of Sub-Saharan Africa," Information Systems Journal 15 (April 2005):119-46; Stolle, Hooghe, and Micheletti, "Politics in the Supermarket," 245-69.
(64) Eco-labels are labeling systems for food and consumer products. They are voluntary informational devices which can be considered soft policy instruments since they mainly rely on moral suasion by providing consumers with information about the environmental impact of certain products.
(65) Council of Europe, Findings of the Questionnaire on Ethical Finance, Fair Trade and Responsible Consumption (DCIII-DCS 09) (Strasbourg: Social Cohesion Development Division, 2004).
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(71) Snowball sampling refers to a sampling technique in which existing study subjects recruit future subjects from among their acquaintances.
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(81) Inglehart, "The 'Silent Revolution' in Europe," 991-1017.
(82) Auger, Burke, Devinney, and Louviere, "What Will Consumers Pay for Social Product Features," 281-304; Stolle, Hooghe, and Micheletti, "Politics in the Supermarket," 245-69; Williams and Zinkin, "The Effect of Culture on Consumers' Willingness to Punish Irresponsible Corporate Behavior," 210-26.
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(85) Shaw, Shiu, and Clarke, "The Contribution of Ethical Obligation and Self-Identity to the Theory of Planned Behavior," 879-94; Shaw and Shiu, "Ethics in Consumer Choice," 1485-98.
(86) Keum, Devanathan, Deshpande, Nelson, and Shah, "The Citizen-Consumer," 369-91. See also Daniel Krause, "Environmental Consciousness: An Empirical Study," Environment and Behavior 25, no. 1 (January 1993): 126-42; Carolyn Strong, "Features Contributing to the Growth of Ethical Consumerism: A Preliminary Investigation," Marketing Intelligence & Planning 14, no. 3 (1996):5-13; Kozinets and Handelman, "Ensouling Consumption," 475-80.
(87) Stewart I. Donaldson and Elisa J. Grant-Vallonem, "Understanding Self-Report Bias in Organizational Behavior Research," Journal of Business and Psychology 17, no. 2 (Winter 2002):245-60.
(88) Auger, Devinney, and Louviere, "Measuring the Importance of Ethical Consumerism," in Controversies in International Corporate Responsibility, eds. Hooker, Hulpke, and Madsen, 207-21.
SOOYOUNG CHO is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Journalism and Communication at Kyung Hee University in Seoul, South Korea. ANDREAS H.
KRASSER graduated from Kyung Hee University with an MA in Journalism and Communication. He is currently an Account Planner at DDB Korea.
Table 1: Summary of Multiple Regression Analysis for Variables Predicting Motivation for Ethical Consumerism (N = 421) Variable B SE B Beta Post-materialism .106 .053 .104 * Materialism .007 .045 .007 Emotional benefits -.026 .019 -.078 Universal benefits .039 .033 .061 Self-identity .145 .018 .468 ** News media content .073 .031 .107 * Entertainment media -.008 -.029 -.012 content N.B. ** p <.001; * p < .05. Adjusted [R.sup.2] = .300, p <.001. Table 2. Summary of Multiple Regression Analysis for Variables Predicting Motivation for Ethical Consumerism in Sub-Samples (N = 421) Adj. Variable B SE Beta [R.sup.2] Austrian respondents (N = 211) .285 Emotional Benefits -.063 .028 -.222 * Self-identity .155 .025 .576 ** News media content .103 .039 .169 * South Korean respondents (N = .313 Post-materialism .187 .073 .174 * Self-identity .151 .026 .417 * N.B. ** p <.001; * p <.05.