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Amy Alexander

Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Thesis: Campus only access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Haley Harwell

Second Advisor

Dr. Kristjen Lundberg

Third Advisor

Dr. Kristin Bezio


There are multiple studies (Butler & Francis, 1997; Dickson, 2001; Hustvedt & Bernard, 2010; Ogle, Hyllegard, & Dunbar, 2004) that have found that personal opinions and behaviors

3 Lazarus, D. (2017, April 11).

4 Hotten, R. (2015, December 10). Volkswagen: The scandal explained. Retrieved April 14, 2017, from

are impacted when one learns about company ethics. Ethics is a set of moral and legal standards set by the societies and cultures they exist within. There seems to be a gap in the research when it comes to the impact of negative campaigns regarding business or corporate ethics on a broader scale. The AMA defines specifically negative advertising as “[t]he use of advertising messages that concentrate on pointing out undesirable aspects of competing products, services, organizations, or ideas. This technique is frequently used in political advertising to attack opposing politicians and political ideas.”5 Negative campaigns are not only used by competing companies but by activist companies as well. Negative press and negative campaigns in theory should be the same, but do not appear to be so. In the present study, I look at if negative campaigns regarding ethics, like the one above, impact consumer behavior and charitable giving. I found in this study that negative campaigns regarding ethics do not significantly impact consumer behavior and charitable giving.

Firstly I introduce and discuss the motivation for my research questions. Secondly I outline the theoretical framework surrounding the topics of ethics and campaigns and their effects on consumer behavior. I then move onto a review of past and current literature in this field, concluding my first section with my hypotheses. My second section is a review of my methodology including my survey questions and use of measures. In section three I review my results and limitations. Section 4 is a discussion of results and applications they have to the real world.