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Abstract

This study compares the ethical inclination regarding consumer misbehaviors from two countries with contrasting cultural characteristics. National samples of South Korean and American adults provided their perceptions of the appropriateness of 12 ethically questionable consumer actions. The scenarios ranged from illegal actions, such as fraudulently inflating one’s losses when filing an insurance claim to legal, yet questionable, actions such as purchasing an item that the buyer recognizes as having been mispriced. The 12 scenarios exhibited a wide range of mean responses in both countries, thereby supporting the oft-stated premise that consumer ethics is a situational phenomenon. Findings indicate not only where the cultures diverge but also where they converge towards a degree of congruence. Plausible explanations for differences based upon cultural dynamics are provided.

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