Which Agent Do You Prefer: a Sinful Succeeder Or a Virtuous Failure?

Amna Kirmani, University of Maryland, USA
Rebecca Hamilton, University of Maryland, USA
Debora Thompson , Georgetown University, USA
We examine how consumers’ trade off competence and morality when evaluating marketing agents. Although the general information formation literature predicts that individuals place greater weight on morality than competence, we predict that in marketing contexts, consumers may value an agent’s competence more than morality. We investigate three factors that might affect how consumers weigh competence and morality: 1) the immediacy of the decision making horizon; 2) self vs. other perspective; and 3) the target-agent relationship. Three studies find support for the predictions.
[ to cite ]:
Amna Kirmani, Rebecca Hamilton, and Debora Thompson (2010) ,"Which Agent Do You Prefer: a Sinful Succeeder Or a Virtuous Failure? ", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 37, eds. Margaret C. Campbell, Jeff Inman, and Rik Pieters, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 267-270 .