"Does Corporate Political Giving Affect Consumer Behavior? Results from Survey and Field Experiments"
Costas Panagopoulos, Professor of Political Science, Northeastern University
Abstract: To what extent do consumers’ preferences change when they learn about firms’ partisan allegiances? We address this question by conducting a series of experiments in which Democrats and Republicans were presented with factual information about corporate political donations. Outcomes were measured through expressed shopping intentions as well as a revealed consumer preference. Respondents became significantly more (less) likely to patronize chains that support (oppose) their party. The effects are found for both convenience samples and representative national samples, and when information is conveyed in the context of a survey or unobtrusively, via direct mail. Effects are especially large among those with strong partisan attachments. We conclude by arguing that the potential for partisan consumerism has risen with the advent of social media but may be undermined by a campaign finance system that increasingly allows for undisclosed corporate donations.
This talk is part of the American Politics Speaker Series, organized by Prof. Jon Rogowski and sponsored by the Harvard Department of Government and the Center for American Political Studies (CAPS). This event is free and open to the public.