Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 130, Issue 1, pp 171–180 | Cite as

Is There a “Fair” in Fair-Trade? Social Dominance Orientation Influences Perceptions of and Preferences for Fair-Trade Products



In recent years, there has been a surge in popularity of the fair-trade industry, which seeks to improve trading conditions and to promote the rights of marginalized workers. Although research suggests that fair-trade products are perceived as promoting social and economic responsibility, some individuals—namely, those who seek to maintain existing group inequalities (i.e., those high in social dominance orientation or SDO) or those induced to think inequality is a good thing—may not share this perception. Across three studies, we found that (1) SDO relates negatively to fair-trade consumption, and (2) this relationship is mediated by the tendency for high-SDO individuals to see fair-trade products as less compatible with their conception of social justice. Our findings held after controlling for related individual-differences variables, and regardless of whether SDO was measured or manipulated. Implications for how to maximize the likelihood that people will perceive fair-trade products as “fair” are discussed.


Fair-trade products Social dominance orientation Consumer behavior Justice 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyOhio UniversityAthensUSA
  2. 2.Zicklin School of Business, Baruch CollegeCity University of New YorkNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.University of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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