Volkswagen TDI - Interactive Identity Paper

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Description: NOTE: The manuscript derived from these data is currently under review. Please do not distribute without obtaining consent from the authors. Abstract: How do actors respond when they become part of an unanticipated and identity-threatening collective action problem due to the actions of a third party? Revelations in 2015 regarding the intentional skirting of emissions standards by the Volkswagen Group provide a unique and rapidly evolving situation in which to examine this question. We investigate how affected VW TDI owners are reacting to the situation, with an emphasis on whether they ascribe themselves personal responsibility for contributing to the problem and fixing impacted vehicles. We examine whether multiple social identities activated by the situation (i.e., VW/Diesel owner, environmentalist) interact to influence the adoption of personal responsibility and intentions to fix vehicles. Results indicate that those most likely to ascribe themselves responsibility are those high in both VW/Diesel and environmentalist identities. Moderated mediation analyses provide evidence that ascriptions of personal responsibility mediate the effects of social identity on intentions to fix affected vehicles.

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