‘Consuming Good’ on Social Media: What Can Conspicuous Virtue Signalling on Facebook Tell Us About Prosocial and Unethical Intentions?

Journal of Business Ethics 162 (3):577-592 (2020)
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Mentioning products or brands on Facebook enables individuals to display an ideal self to others through a form of virtual conspicuous consumption. Drawing on conspicuous donation behaviour literature, we investigate ‘conspicuous virtue signalling’, as conspicuous consumption on Facebook. CVS occurs when an individual mentions a charity on their Facebook profile. We investigate need for uniqueness and attention to social comparison information as antecedents of two types of CVS–self-oriented and other-oriented. We also explore the relationship between CVS and self-esteem, and offline prosocial and unethical behaviour intentions. Data from two studies, a college survey and an adult survey via MTurk, were analysed using structural equation modelling. Results indicate that NFU predicts both forms of CVS, while ATSCI influences both forms of CVS for adults and other-oriented CVS for students. Self-esteem is enhanced by self-oriented CVS. Self-oriented CVS predicts donation intention whereas other-oriented CVS significantly reduces donation intention for both samples. Furthermore, a significant relationship between CVS and purchase intention of counterfeit luxury goods is revealed. Findings provide insights into conspicuous virtue signalling and the relationship between CVS on Facebook and offline behavioural intentions.



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