Outside of elections, how do political ideologies influence consumer behavior?
I conduct research on specific types of ideologies and belief systems that broadly influence consumer choices and welfare. In one line of research I am investigating the effects of economic system-justification (ESJ), which is the tendency to perceive the social institutions, procedures, and outcomes of the prevailing economic system as just and fair. My collaborators and I have observed that ESJ can lead to a stronger avoidance of products and lifestyles that are not explicitly endorsed by companies and industries that have an extensive presence within the global free-market economic system, even if doing so would benefit one’s well-being or the environment (e.g., paying more for healthy foods or environmentally-friendly products).
- Maxwell-Smith, M. A., Cotte, J., Johnson, A., Shavitt, S. & Shepherd, S. Consuming in Support of the Free Market: The Effects of Economic System-Justification on Consumer Preferences. (in progress).
Who is most likely to act on their ideological beliefs?
This question was, in part, inspired by other research on the correspondence (or lack thereof) between people’s beliefs or attitudes and their subsequent behavior. My main contribution to this area is the development of an individual difference construct called commitment to beliefs (CTB), which is the degree to which people generally feel it is important to follow beliefs that are based on their personal values. My collaborators and I have found that CTB, in conjunction with relevant situational or ideological variables, has uniquely influenced people’s attitudes, group biases, voting behavior, and environmentally-friendly consumption.
- Maxwell-Smith, M. A., Seligman, C., Conway, P. J., & Cheung, I. (2015). Individual Differences in Commitment to Value-Based Beliefs and the Amplification of Perceived Belief Dissimilarity Effects. Journal of Personality, 83 (2), 127-141. (lead article) doi: 10.1111/jopy.12089
- Maxwell-Smith, M. A., & Esses, V. M. (2012). Assessing Individual Differences in the Degree to Which People are Committed to Following Their Beliefs. Journal of Research in Personality, 46 (2), 195-209. doi: 10.1016/j.jrp.2012.01.009
- Maxwell-Smith, M. A., Conway, P. J., Wright, J., & Olson, J. (2018). Translating Environmental Ideologies into Action: The Amplifying Role of Commitment to Beliefs. Journal of Business Ethics. doi: 10.1007/s10551-016-3404-3