The Impact of New Products on Ethical Beliefs

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Description: We test whether the availability of consumer goods affects ethical beliefs. Several new firms are developing "clean" animal products: lab-grown meat, egg, and dairy products that do not rely on traditional animal agriculture. Standard models of cognitive dissonance would predict that the mere availability of such a product would lead consumers to put more moral weight on the environment and farm animals. We do not initially observe this and in fact find that information about clean meat may even negatively affect beliefs. A second experiment in which we use priming to randomly manipulate how positively respondents view the product explains the surprising result: due to concerns about the "unnaturalness" of the product, many do not find it an acceptable substitute, however, those who perceive the product positively do change their ethical beliefs.

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