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My Anger Is Your Gain, My Contempt Your Loss: Explaining Consumer Responses to Corporate Wrongdoing

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ABSTRACT

Two forms of consumer response to corporate wrongdoing are constructive punitive actions (i.e., those designed to induce firms to change their behavior but with the hope of sustaining relationships with consumers) and destructive punitive actions (i.e., those intended to discredit or harm firms, ultimately leading to disengagement from firms). This study investigates the conditions under which one or the other actions are taken and shows that anger regulates the former, whereas contempt governs the latter. Hypotheses are tested in two studies: a laboratory experiment and a naturalistic field study with an actual instance of recent corporate malfeasance. Theoretical and managerial implications are discussed.

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