Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 150, Issue 3, pp 727–739 | Cite as

Assertiveness Bias in Gender Ethics Research: Why Women Deserve the Benefit of the Doubt

Marketing and Consumer Behavior
  • Saar Bossuyt
  • Patrick Van Kenhove


Gender is one of the most researched and contentious topics in consumer ethics research. It is common for researchers of gender studies to presume that women are more ethical than men because of their reputation for having a selfless, sensitive nature. Nevertheless, we found evidence that women behaved less ethically than men in two field experiments testing a passive form of unethical behavior. Women benefited to a larger extent from a cashier miscalculating the bill in their favor than men. However, in three follow-up studies, we found that women did not necessarily intend to benefit at the expense of someone else. Women are less prone to speak up to a cashier than men are, even when the mistake is made in their disfavor. These results reveal that gender differences in assertiveness affect differences in unethical behavior.


Assertiveness Behavioral experiments Consumer ethics Gender differences Gender ethics Social desirability bias Unethical consumer behavior 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Marketing, Faculty of Economics and Business AdministrationGhent UniversityGhentBelgium

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