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Ethics In Advertising And Consumer Psychology

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Discuss about the Ethics In Advertising And Consumer Psychology.


Literature Review

It is the scholar paper which includes the current knowledge about the topic and also the contributions of different authors.  This includes the data from secondary sources.

Literature Review Scope

The scope of this literature review is wide as it considers the works of different authors and is a part of the complete research. The research is done on ‘Ethics in advertising and consumer psychology’ which is a wide topic and need to be covered properly. The basic idea of the research revolves around the role of ethics in advertising and consumer psychology. There are various views on the ethics in advertising and Consumer psychology which clears up the idea on the topic. Different authors have different opinion and viewpoints on Ethics in advertising and consumer psychology.

Literature Review Objectives

 This literature review analyses the relationship between the ethics in advertising and consumer psychology. The main objective is to compare and contrast the contributions given by different authors on the topic. It will help the marketers and advertisers in designing their advertisements by considering ethics.


Literature Review comparative analysis: Advertising

Advertising is known as the non-personal paid form of communication which connects the consumer with the advertiser.  The significance of advertising is increasing considerably in the modern society. It has great influence on the society and communities and shape their attitudes and behaviours. Advertising can be simple or can be complex. It can be commercial, political or in social form. So, advertising has to be real which do not distort the actual message of the communication. It has powerful impact on the society which creates a need of advertisements to be ethical. Ethics, on the other hand, are the principles which guide an individual to make a comparison and difference between rights or wrong (Schlegelmilch & Öberseder, 2010).

Consumer Behaviour

According to Adhikary (2014), consumer behaviour is how the consumers take decisions to spend their resources wisely to make consumption. The consumers pass through five different stages before making any decision to make a final purchase. These stages include Need recognition, Information search, alternative evaluation, purchase decision and post purchase evaluation. Advertising plays a major role in influencing the individuals in making a final decision of purchase. Advertising basically influences the decision making processes of the consumers. The author reflects on the idea that it is the duty of the advertisers to communicate real information about the product or service so that it influences the consumer behaviour in the ethical way.


Advertising, consumer psychology and Role of Ethics

In the words of Gilaninia, Taleghani and Karimi (2013), Information and communication technologies have placed itself as a strong player in the world of advertising. It aims at connecting with the wide audience and tries various ways to attract the mass population. Various research studies shows that people’s attitudes and beliefs are used to evaluate the benefits of internet advertising. The consumers make their decisions after the proper analysis and this is how internet advertising works. Maintaining ethics in internet advertising is equally important because the brands often claim falsely on internet which is easily believed by the customers. Also, there are lot of issues on the internet like directing the user to the fake site or misleading them with the pop ups which is unethical.  According to Fatima & Lodhi (2015), advertisements and buying behaviour are connected. When advertisements create awareness and frame perception of the customers for the products or services, it influencesthe buying behaviour of the customers. The consumers are motivated through advertisements which stimulate the sales of the product or services of the company.

In the views of Suguna (2014), Unethical advertising or ethical advertising, more or less depends on the views or perceptions of the customers. The research conducted by the author and the data collected stated that ethics are needed in the society. These are the principles which bring favourable changes in the society. The study is reliable and valid as the data collected showed that negative, unethical or fake advertising dissatisfies the customers and the brand may lose the customers in the longer term. It is also dependent on the individual perception or group perceptions where the particular advertisement is ethical or unethical. As per Martin (2010), there are some ethical considerations which impact the buying behaviour of the consumers.  As per the research conducted, over 60 per cent of people said that they consider ethics while purchasing clothes while 80% of them consider ethics while purchasing groceries. Window dressing the real facts can lead to the damage to the reputation of the company and can also lose its customers.

In the views of Vlasceanu (2013), there are series of aspects which determine the advertisement and consumer’s psychology and influence the decision behaviour of the consumers. Consumer’s psychology is the study of the behaviour of consumers in relation to psychological, physiological and decisional perspectives. The advertise psychology suggests that the advertisement has a purpose, a message to convey and the success of the sales of the organisation depends on how well the advertisement elaborates its characteristics and features. The advertisements focus on triggering the emotions of the consumers so that the urge of buying the product or service arises.  In order to get publicity the advertisements uses the content sometimes which is not acceptable by the society. In the views of author, the advertisements need to be made by keeping in mind the values and ethics which are acceptable by the society. The advertisements with erotic content and sexual appeal get more views and responses but have negative effects on society. These negative effects can be premature sexual behaviours, controversies and wrong effect on children. Some of the authors are of the view that the sexual advertisements are created for attracting more publicity but lacks in ethical and cultural behaviour. These types of advertisements are offensive. The advertisements are ethical when they fulfil their basic criteria that is informing the potential customers about the product or service and shaping the attitude of the customer towards the brand. But involving the offensive contents just to increase the attractiveness towards the advertisement is purely unethical (Nooh, 2012).


In the views of Rodrigo (2012), it is believed that the consumer behaviour is influenced by different types of promotional techniques. Advertisements determine whether the customers will accept the product or reject it. The marketers uses different types of techniques through advertising which helps in them in grasping the maximum share of market. But the main issue is that how ethical these advertisements are and what effect they have on the psychology of consumers. The author focuses on how the company uses every possible technique to increase their sales through advertisements. These tactics may also include unethical ways which have negative effects on the society. It is seen in the research that some advertisements have emotional and negative attitudinal reaction by the untargeted customers and therefore the drop in the sales was seen.  It is very important for the business organisations and advertisers to understand that what impact their advertisements can make on the customers. The impact can be positive or negative which is to be kept in mind for successful future business. The study shows that every customer has different perception towards every advertisement. The companies should try to fulfil the expectations of the potential customers ensuring that these customers have ethical perception towards the advertisements which do not let the sales of the company drop.  Rodrigo (2012) explained that ethics of advertising is something which ensures that no harm would be produced to the society and consumers. There are many researches carried out which showcases the relationship between the ethics in advertisements and in the consumer psychology.

On the other hand, Rosenthal (2014), in his article believes that many of the successful marketers use psychology so that they can appeal the consumers well. They use psychology so that they can make a place in the hearts and minds of the consumers. These marketers use legal, ethical and genuine content to engage customers and to compel them to make purchase of their products or services. The marketers use psychology to gain competitive advantage in the market and to feel closer to the customers. Many studies have shown that the marketers use emotions and psychological appeal to get engaged with the customers. They involve emotions and also sometime highlight the flaws so that the customer could connect to them because of their genuineness.  The marketers focus on trying to make people important and work on their exclusive features. This is how the marketers take care about the psychology of the consumers and try to avoid the concepts which are unethical.

In the views of Anastasia (2015), Business ethics is one of the most complex subjects and this is very tough to decide that what the ethical way to sell things is. The ethical consideration is an issue because the marketers do not consider what is right or wrong for the society. It is often realised that if the companies will focus on being more ethical in their advertising practices, it will give its positive effects on each and every area of the business. Ethical advertising is when the companies or marketers promote their products or services honestly and with fairness. It is very tough to decide what is ethical and what is not because it is a subjective judgement todecide about right or wrong. Ethical marketing have some principles which are the general guidelines to maintain ethics in the activities of the organisations. These principles include maintaining truth and honesty, maintaining personal ethics as well, transparency is maintained, the government rules and regulations are complied with and the customer’s privacy is not compromised (Anastasia, 2015). For maintaining strong relationships with the customers for the long term, the companies should focus on being ethical while designing the advertisements otherwise it will lead to failure. Ethical marketing directly appeals customers and have impact on the customers psychology. The customers feel valued and entire thing works positively for the company (Smart, Barman & Gunasekera, 2010). Unethical advertising can be the one which is against laws, making false claims about the quality and features of the product or service, puffing up on products, unverified claims, exploiting children or women and making false comparisons with other brands.

In support to the above views and thoughts, Sidhu, et  al. (2015) believes that ethics in advertising plays a pivotal role in the success of the advertisement. Advertisement is like a vehicle which drives the psychological forces of a consumer to buy the particular product or service. But at times, the advertisements go beyond the fair line of true information and involve unethical practices with a view to attract most of the customers. Especially young population of the society are influenced by these unethical means. But for the culture and values of the society, the advertisements should be designed keeping in mind the ethical values. The companies have to follow some regulations and laws made by the country’s government for maintaining ethics in the advertisements ad to avoid any misleading activities. There are codes and guidelines given by Advertising Codes and Regulations (ACCC) which is to be followed by the advertisers (Australian Government, 2016).

In the views of  Singal & Kamra (2012), the scope of advertising is huge and provides competitive advantage to the brands but looking at a global perspective, there are some regulatory requirements which look into the subject matter of advertisement and the meaning. For e.g. In Europe, the sponsorship for the children programs is not allowed under the age of twelve. It also clears that 5 minutes before and after children program cannot be aired on television. In UK, no advertisement of tobacco can be aired in television or placed at billboards. This shows that the advertisementregulatory look for the clear and faithful advertisements and does not allow any advertisement which is manipulating, misguiding and have misleading information. If advertisements affect the buying behaviour of the consumers by using incorrect means and methods, it is unethical. Ethics helps in proper guidance of the customers and also maintains trust and faith between the advertiser and the consumer.


Quality and currency of the Literature source: Quality of paper

The Quality of the literature sources is good and all the sources are relevant and genuinely referred. Most of the resources are the journal articles and online articles by the authors which provide accurate information on the topic. The document from Austrian government’s website is also referred for considering the legal obligations. All the matter is valid and researched properly. The sources are referenced properly which shows that they are credible.

Currency of paper

All the sources which are considered in the literature review are published in or after the year 2010. The sources are latest and not out of date for the research on the topic. The latest articles are given more preference than the ones which are older. The sources considered present a clear and direct knowledge on the topic “Ethics in advertising and consumer psychology”. It is always best to use current sources for literature to increase the credibility of the literature.

Validity and Reliability

The information provided from the literature sources is reliable and valid. All the sources are genuine and are read carefully to answer the research question. The purpose of the information was to answer the research question which has been done effectively. Different articles are been considered in order to compare and contrast the views of different authors and that is why different articles are been referred so that the views of these authors can be compared. These contents are not firsthand but they all are original and verified. All the references are cited in the literature so that credibility can be maintained.

Research gap & contribution

Research gap can be referred to the non answered research question. This is what helps in publishing the research. The contribution made in the research is through the study of different articles and analysing them for reach8ing the conclusion for the research. The research gaps are that what role ethics play in advertising and how it is related to the consumer psychology. The gap is between the understanding of the link between the advertising ethics and consumer psychology and how it can make business more effective.

Conclusion of Literature Review

It can be concluded that different authors have different views on the ethics in advertising and consumer psychology but collaboratively, all the authors agree on the maintenance of ethics in advertisements for restoration of the values and culture of the nation and to make their important place in the life of the consumers. Being genuine and honest will create goodwill for the advertiser in the market and people could feel connected with these brands. Unethical advertisements could provide short term benefits of attracting more number of customers and high sales but it is not suitable for longer term. In longer term, people avoid the false advertisers and unethical content. So, this shows that ethics plays a pivotal role in the advertisements and in making impact on the psychology of the customers.



Adhikary, A 2014, ‘Advertising: A Fusion Process between Consumer and Product’, Procedia Economics and Finance 11 ( 2014 ) 230 – 238.

Anastasia, 2015, ‘Social Responsibility & Ethics in Marketing’, Cleverism.

Australian Government, 2016, ‘Legal obligations of Marketing’. Retrieved from

Drumwright, M E, 2012, ‘Ethics and advertising theory’, Advertising Theory, pp.463-479.

Fatima, S & Lodhi, S 2015, ‘Impact of Advertisement on Buying Behaviours of the consumers: Study of Cosmetic Industry in Karachi City’, International Journal of Management Sciences and Business Research, Vol-4, Issue 10. 

Gilaninia, S, Taleghani, M and Karimi, H 2013, ‘Internet Advertising and Consumer Behavior in the Purchase of Products’, Journal of Research and Development, Vol. 1, No.1.

Martin, P 2010, ‘Consumer attitudes and perceptions on sustainability’, The Guardian.

Nooh, M N 2012, ‘Advertising ethics: A review’, The Journal of Commerce, 4(3), p.33.

Rodrigo, 2012, ‘Buying behavior, TV advertisements, ethical and unethical.’, the Write Pass Journal.

Rosenthal, R 2014, ‘5 Psychological Tactics Marketers Use To Influence Consumer Behavior’, Fast Company.

Schlegelmilch, B B and Öberseder, M, 2010, ‘Half a century of marketing ethics: Shifting perspectives and emerging trends’, Journal of Business Ethics, 93(1), pp.1-19.

Sidhu, L S, Sharma, J, Shiny & Shivani, 2015, ‘Ethics in Advertising – An Indian Perspective’, International Advanced Research Journal in Science, Engineering and Technology, Vol. 2, Issue 5.

Singal, R & Kamra, G 2012, ‘Ethical Issues in Advertising’, International Journal of Engineering, Science and Metallurgy.

Smart, V, Barman, T & Gunasekera, N 2010, ‘Incorporating ethics into strategy: developing sustainable business models’, Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.

Suguna, T 2014, ‘Customers perceptions on Unethical Advertising- A study on Reliability and Validity’, International Journal of Economic and Business Review, Vol-4, Issue 10.

Vlasceanu, S 2013, ‘Psychology of the consumer’s and the advertise in terms of factors that leads to consumers decision making’, Romanian Journal of Experimental applied psychology.  Vol. 4, Issue 1.


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