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Cindy Chan wins best paper award for unique research

Assistant Professor Cindy Chan is an expert on consumer relationships. (Photo by Ken Jones)

A unique look at how moral violations can reduce consumption has landed Cindy Chan a best paper award from the Journal of Consumer Psychology.   

“It was an honour for my co-authors and I to receive this award, and it’s gratifying to know that our research has made a positive impact in the field,” says Chan, an assistant professor in the Department of Management at U of T Scarborough.

The research, which was published in 2014, found that what we find morally offensive can be physically offensive as well. Chan, who is an expert on emotions and consumer relationships, looked at whether the effects of moral disgust follow the same pattern as core disgust. Core disgust has been shown to evoke a range of physical and behavioural responses to possible contaminants, including the feeling of nausea and revulsion as well as a withdrawal or avoidance of food.

“The emotion we feel from experiencing a moral violation can profoundly affect our behaviour,” says Chan, whose recent research has also explored the emotions involved in gift-giving.

“It causes us to consume less and highlights a psychological truth that moral violations can, in a manner of speaking, leave a bad taste in our mouths.”

She adds that the research could be of interest to marketers whose brands are associated with moral violations or whose products may be consumed in morally-charged environments.

To read more about this award-winning research click here.

The C.W. Park award is given annually to the best paper published in the journal three years ago. Papers are nominated before a winner is selected by committee. The award was recently presented at the Society for Consumer Psychology conference held in San Francisco. 


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