Softening the blow: Company self-disclosure of negative information lessens the damaging effects on consumer judgment and decision making

Bob M. Fennis*, Wolfgang Stroebe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Is self-disclosure of negative information a viable strategy for a company to lessen the damage done to consumer responses? Three experiments assessed whether self-disclosing negative information in itself lessened the damaging impact of this information compared to third-party disclosure of the same information. Results indicated that mere self-disclosure of a negative event positively affected consumers' choice behavior, perceived company trustworthiness, and company evaluations compared to third-party disclosure. The effectiveness of the self-disclosure strategy was moderated by the initial reputation of a company, such that its impact was only observed for companies that had a poor reputation at the outset. For them, self-disclosure considerably lessened the impact of negative information compared to third-party disclosure. For companies that enjoyed a positive reputation, type of disclosure did not affect consumer responses. Mediation analysis showed that perceptions of company trustworthiness underlie the effects of the self-disclosure strategy on consumer judgment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-120
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Volume120
Issue number1
Early online date14-Feb-2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar-2014

Keywords

  • Consumer behavior
  • Social influence processes
  • Judgment and decision making
  • Company trustworthiness beliefs
  • ORGANIZATIONAL TRUST
  • STEALING THUNDER
  • PRODUCT FAILURE
  • MODERATING ROLE
  • REPAIR
  • COMPETENCE
  • INTEGRITY
  • PERSPECTIVE
  • TRUSTWORTHINESS
  • EXPLANATIONS

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