Prior research has identified that consumers may judge similar unethical behaviors differently depending on the actor in such behaviors; a phenomenon called double standards. While some studies have examined why consumer double standards may occur, it is less clear how to mitigate their occurrence. The present study examines the role of different, discrete emotions – anger and compassion – in mitigating double standards using two experimental studies, involving a total of 562 participants from Indonesia. The results indicate the existence of double standards, in that consumers were harsher in their judgment of unethical conduct by prosperous (vs. non-prosperous) companies. More importantly, the findings establish that anger and compassion can diminish double standards in consumer ethical judgments. Furthermore, these emotion effects are explained by two distinct mechanisms. Specifically, anger reduces repurchase likelihood when mediated by perceived justice, while compassion mediated by forgiveness increases repurchase likelihood. The research limitations and implications are also discussed.
- Double standards
- Ethical judgment