Helping through Morality versus Identification: Implications for Consumer Helping Behaviors

Johnson, Zachary S.; Yun Jung Lee; Paniculangara, Joseph Thomas
July 2015
International Journal of Business & Applied Sciences;2015, Vol. 4 Issue 2, p43
Academic Journal
Consumers frequently provide voluntary help to other consumers while consuming products and during the provision of services and, in so doing, transcend their traditional passive buying roles and become part of a firm's value-creation network. As much of the research on consumer-to-consumer (C2C) helping behaviors is anecdotal, managers are left with an incomplete understanding of consumers' motives for engaging in these valuable activities. Recent empirical research suggests that consumers are motivated to provide assistance to other consumers based on their perception of a common social identification, or perceived oneness with a group, such that higher levels of identification correspond to increases levels of helping. However, research also suggests that higher levels of identification can simultaneously decrease helping intentions towards those who are believed to be members of a competing out-group. While there is some recognition that consumers may provide assistance to others outside of their membership groups, it is not clear what motivates consumers to help these other consumers. The current research thus examines consumers' different motivations for helping other consumers within a consumption context who are either part of the same membership group or are part of a broader non-competing group. Our findings suggest that consumers with a salient social identity will sometimes be just as likely to help an in-group member versus consumer in a non-competing out-group, albeit their motives for helping these two different types of consumers are different.


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