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Do the Crime, Always Do the Time? Insights into Consumer-to-Consumer Punishment Decisions

Lily Lin, Darren W. Dahl and Jennifer J. Argo
Journal of Consumer Research
Vol. 40, No. 1 (June 2013), pp. 64-77
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.1086/668641
Stable URL:
Page Count: 14
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Norm violations disrupt social order, and according to prior research, social order can be restored through the punishment of norm violators. Based on this conceptual framework, the current research examines a prevalent yet overlooked behavior in the consumer literature by showing that consumers play an active role in making punishment decisions. Importantly, this article highlights three factors that affect the balance in social order and thus are critical in consumer-to-consumer punishment decisions. First, when a third party in the consumption environment restores social order through punishment, consumers will refrain from punishing further (study 1). Second, punishment is mitigated when the norm violator faces an unjustified adversity, as punishment would create a further imbalance in social order (studies 2a and 2b). Third, the level of punishment required to achieve social order is reduced for a higher status norm violator (study 3). Finally, this article identifies multiple avenues for future research that build on the current work.

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