Empathy from private or public self-consciousness in socially responsible consumption

Chi Cheng Luan*, Tz Han Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The issue of socially responsible consumption (SRC) has been discussed from a perspective of behavioral change. Empathy is a moral emotion to motivate this behavioral change and includes cognitive and affective elements. Yet, the process of how an individual generates empathy cognitively and affectively is still unclear. Therefore, the main aim of this research is to discuss two types of self-consciousness which result in empathic concern that changes consumers' behavior to be more socially responsible. This research conducted two studies via Amazon Mechanical Turk including the self-evaluation surveys of 428 participants and surveys of 351 participants about a simulated shopping scenario. Structural equation modeling method was employed to examine the hypotheses. Two studies showed that private self-consciousness significantly influences empathic concern about SRC. Moreover, age and income significantly moderated the relationship between private (vs. public) self-consciousness and empathic concern. These findings suggest that experiential marketing strategies could be used particularly on younger or lower-income consumers as they tend to feel empathy through private self-consciousness of moral values on helping others. This research also suggests that nonprofit organizations should collaborate with for-profit sectors by triggering consumers' empathic feelings in terms of private and public self-consciousness and demographic factors.

Keywords

  • age
  • empathic concern
  • income
  • self-consciousness
  • socially responsible consumption

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