Uncertainty in ethical consumer choice: a conceptual model

Louise Hassan, Deirdre Shaw, Edward Shiu, Gianfranco Walsh, Sara Parry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The market place has seen significant growth in the demand for ‘ethical’ products and services. Yet, consumers often experience knowledge, evaluation and choice uncertainties in decision-making processes, particularly in relation to products such as ethical clothing. The authors explore this pertinent form of consumer uncertainty through three qualitative studies of ethical consumers that examine their approaches to clothing consumption. In-depth interviews and focus groups confirm uncertainty arises; the results also identify the causes and consequences of consumer uncertainty in this context. The causes of uncertainty pertain to issues surrounding complexity, ambiguity, conflict and credibility that give rise to uncertainties that result in delaying purchase decisions, compromising beliefs and negative emotions. This study contributes to literature by offering a holistic understanding of the challenges facing consumers when making ethical choices.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Consumer Behaviour
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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