Publication Details

Yuksel, U., Thai, N. T. & Lee, M. S. W. (2019). Boycott them! No, boycott this! Do choice overload and small‐agent rationalization inhibit the signing of anti‐consumption petitions?. Psychology of Marketing, Online First 1-15.


The Internet and social media have increased the number of organizations and individuals asking consumers to sign petitions against transgressing brands. This raises a question as to whether such increases in requests to sign a petition to support a boycott positively or negatively impact on consumer willingness to enact anti-consumption. Via experiments, this study investigates the effect that choice overload has on consumers signing a petition in support of a boycott call. The findings establish that individuals who need to make a choice from numerous boycott calls (i.e., large choice-sets) are less likely to sign a petition to support a boycott than individuals making a similar choice from a small number of boycott calls (i.e., small choice-sets). The study further introduces a mediator that explains this effect. Compared with individuals facing a small choice‐set, those facing numerous options are more likely to experience the small-agent rationalization, and thus, are less likely to sign the petition to support a boycott. The small‐agent rationalization (SAR) relates to one's acceptance of inequity in the world as well as perceptions of their own powerlessness. The study establishes the role of choice overload in boycott literature and empirically tests SAR as the process mechanism. Theoretical, practical, and policy implications are discussed.

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