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“Do you actively avoid purchasing fast fashion made by tiny children in a dangerous, environment-polluting factory? Why, good on you, kind sir. But maybe don’t broadcast that fact to the nearest guy in Nikes.
According to a new study from Ohio State University, everyone is the worst and this is why we can’t have morally uncorrupt things. The study suggests that, while no one is seeking outclothing made in appalling conditions, those who don’t attempt to shop ethically often ridicule those who do make the effort, perceiving them as boring and fashion-challenged. This only serves to make willfully ignorant consumers even more nonchalant about ethical shopping in the future.
“It is this vicious cycle,” said Rebecca Walker Reczek, co-author of the study and associate professor of marketing at The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business. “You choose not to find out if a product is made ethically. Then you harshly judge people who do consider ethical values when buying products. Then that makes you less ethical in the future.”
For this study, Reczek and her coworker Daniel Zane, a graduate student at Ohio State’s Fisher College, had 147 undergraduates evaluate four pairs of blue jeans with four differing attributes: style, wash, price, and an ethical issue. As expected, most of the students were only worried about style, wash, and price. But when asked to provide opinions on different types of consumers, those who were blasé about child labor or environmental concerns were also more likely to classify their conscious peers as “odd, boring, and less fashionable.”
“Willfully ignorant consumers put ethical shoppers down because of the threat they feel for not having done the right thing themselves,” Reczek said. “They feel bad and striking back at the ethical consumers makes themselves feel better.””