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Abstract

Despite potential competitive and customer service advantages of liberal return policies, retailers have tightened policies in response to fraudulent consumer behavior. This article suggests that changes in consumer behavior/retail return policies may be the result of a larger social phenomenon: consumer anomie. This research explores consumer anomie within the context of retailing. Two studies assess the relationships between anomie, materialism, rationalization techniques, and fraudulent marketplace behaviors. Factor analysis corroborates previous research indicating that modern-day anomie is essentially cynicism. Consumers high in cynicism are more materialistic and more likely than other consumers to employ rationalization techniques in order to justify engaging in unethical retail disposition. Consumers high in cynicism are also found to hold more favorable views toward engaging in fraudulent marketplace behaviors that permit them to benefit at the seller's expense. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.