Despite the seriousness of shoplifting, consumers’ evaluations, judgements, and intentions toward shoplifting remain underexplored by scholars from business ethics, marketing, retailing, and consumer behavior. We propose a new shoplifting ethics model, which integrates Hunt and Vitell’s theory of ethics with Nadeau, Rochlen, and Tyminski’s typology of shoplifting, by incorporating the moderators of consumers’ personal characteristics (i.e., age, gender, marital status, income) and shoplifting motives (i.e., social, experiential, economic, emotional) onto the relationships among deontological evaluation, teleological evaluation, ethical judgment, and intention. Based on a two-by-two randomized experimental design, two shoplifting cases (i.e., swapping price tags, stealing products) are investigated in four scenarios (i.e., deontologically unethical condition with positive consequences, deontologically unethical condition with negative consequences, deontologically ethical condition with positive consequences, deontologically ethical condition with negative consequences). We discover that age, marriage, and income enhance the relationship between consumers’ deontological evaluations of shoplifting and ethical judgments of shoplifting; that employment strengthens the relationship between the ethical judgments of shoplifting and shoplifting intentions; and that marriage enhances the relationship between consumers’ teleological evaluations of shoplifting and shoplifting intentions. Nevertheless, the economic factor weakens the relationship between consumers’ deontological evaluations of shoplifting and ethical judgments of shoplifting. We find that ethical judgments of shoplifting mediates the relationship between consumers’ deontological/teleological evaluations of shoplifting and shoplifting intentions. The results imply that younger, single, unemployed, and low-income consumers engage in more shoplifting activities compared to their older, married, employed, and high-income counterparts. Moreover, even though acknowledging the inherent wrongness of shoplifting and its negative consequences, consumers can still be impelled by economic reasons to participate in shoplifting. We contribute to the ongoing debate on whether economic reasons change consumers’ ethical judgments of shoplifting and whether economic disadvantage motivates consumers to shoplift. Contrary to conventional wisdom, negative consequences and punishment do not fully deter consumers from shoplifting. Under the contingencies of personal characteristics and shoplifting motives, shoplifting intention is influenced directly by ethical judgment and indirectly by deontological and teleological evaluations. Theoretical and practical insights are discussed to help policy makers and store managers prevent shoplifting behavior.
Shi, Juehui; Pham, Ngoc Cindy; Schapsis, Claudio; Hossain, Tofazzal; and Vasquez-Párraga, Arturo Z. (2022) "How Do Consumers in General Evaluate, Judge, and Act toward Shoplifting? The Moderating Effects of Personal Characteristics and Motives," American Business Review: Vol. 25: No. 2, Article 4. DOI: 10.37625/abr.25.2.293-327 Available at: https://digitalcommons.newhaven.edu/americanbusinessreview/vol25/iss2/4
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