We are more tolerant than I: self-construal and consumer responses toward deceptive advertising
Deceptive advertising, or advertising that intends to mislead consumers by false claims or incomplete disclosure, is ubiquitous in the marketplace. Though prior research has shown that consumers generally view companies’ deceptive communication as unethical and react to it negatively, anecdotal evidence suggests that some consumers are more accepting of such misleading tactics than others. Delving deeper into this phenomenon, this research examines the role of self-construal on consumers’ responses toward deceptive advertising. Three studies provide converging evidence that interdependent (vs. independent) consumers are more tolerant of deceptive advertising, which is mediated by their attribution styles. Moreover, we further demonstrate the self-construal effect on lie acceptability decreases as the firm becomes smaller, when it is easier for consumers to pinpoint who should be responsible for the misconduct and thus are more likely to make internal attribution.