Ethical clothing and issues in visual texts: how persuasion knowledge influences maladaptive responses in ethically inclined consumers.
Thesis DisciplineMedia and Communication
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
Research on ethical decision- making often focuses on mainstream consumers and the ways in which they justify attitude- behaviour gaps to manage a consistent image for the self and society. Although research on ethical consumers has recently grown with an increased focus on Fairtrade, solidarity purchase groups and other ethically inclined movements, the consumer’s level of interest for a given ethical issue or field is rarely explored. This thesis focuses on consumers interested in ethical clothing consumption and explores the ways in which an individual’s level of interest in ethical clothing consumption and the type of related visual communication they are exposed to may influence their response. The research was conducted through an online, anonymous survey with 282 final participants who were recruited through an Australian organization related to ethical clothing consumption. A mixed methods approach was utilised for this exploratory research. Overall, the quantitative results indicated that the image viewed may be a more significant predictor than the individual’s level of interest or engagement for measuring agent knowledge, guilt and appropriateness/ effectiveness within persuasion knowledge, and personal relevance within topic knowledge. However, the results indicated that the level of interest or engagement may be a more significant predictor for measuring response efficacy and self- efficacy within topic knowledge. The qualitative results indicated that the level of interest or engagement may be influential in how barriers and motivations to ethical clothing consumption are perceived. The results are used to propose preliminary suggestions for future marketing efforts related to ethical clothing consumption.