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Springer 2005

Journal of Business Ethics (2005) 58: 295305


DOI 10.1007/s10551-004-5970-z

A Preliminary Investigation into the


Role of Positive Psychology in
Consumer Sensitivity to Corporate
Social Performance

ABSTRACT. Research on positive psychology demonstrates that specific individual dispositions are associated
with more desirable outcomes. The relationship of positive psychological constructs, however, has not been applied to the areas of business ethics and social
responsibility. Using four constructs in two independent
studies (hope and gratitude in Study 1, spirituality and
generativity in Study 2), the relationship of these constructs to sensitivity to corporate social performance
(CSCSP) were assessed. Results indicate that all four
constructs significantly predicted CSCSP, though only
hope and gratitude interacted to impact CSCSP. Discussion focuses upon these findings, limitations of the
study, and future avenues for research.

Robert A. Giacalone, Ph.D. (State University of New York


Albany) is Professor of Human Resource Management at the
Fox School of Business and Management, Temple University, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His current research
focuses on the impact of materialism/postmaterialism and
workplace spirituality on business ethics.
Karen Paul is Professor of Management and International
Business at Florida International University in Miami,
Florida. She has the Ph.D. from Emory University in
Altanta, Georgia. Her research focuses on corporate social
responsibility, corporate social reporting, and socially responsible investing. In previous research conducted in the
United States, Great Britain, and South Africa, working
with students, she developed the Consumer Sensitivity to
Corporate Social Responsibility Scale.
Carole L. Jurkiewicz, Ph.D., is the John W. Dupuy Endowed
Professor and Womens Hospital Distinguished Professor of
Healthcare Management at Louisiana State University. She
has published numerous research articles, books, and news
articles on the topics of organizational ethics, leadership, and
behavior.

Robert A. Giacalone
Karen Paul
Carole L. Jurkiewicz

KEY WORDS: corporate social performance, consumer,


positive psychology

Introduction
Defining and promoting worthwhile individual and
collective behavior has been a topic of discourse for
millennia, historically focused on diagnosing
pathologies and deficits and developing treatment
modalities. Breaking from this tradition, the field of
positive psychology has sought to direct attention
toward the attributes and traits that constitute individual strengths, those aspects of the human psyche
that improve the quality and meaning of life (Seligman, 1999a, b; Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi,
2000). Positive psychology encompasses a variety of
different behaviors, including those with emotional
foci such as flow (Nakamura and Csikszentmihalyi,
2001) and emotional intelligence (Salovey et al., 2001),
cognitive foci such as hope (Snyder et al., 2001),
interpersonal foci such as gratitude (Emmons and
Shelton, 2001), and transcendent foci such as
spirituality (Pargament and Mahoney, 2001). The
expansiveness of this purview is articulated in
three volumes that explicate the various dimensions
of positive psychology from both a psychological
(Lopez and Snyder, 2003; Snyder and Lopez, 2002)
and an organizational perspective (Cameron et al.,
2003), along with concept-specific treatises on areas
such as hope (Snyder, 2000) and generativity
(McAdams and de St. Aubin, 1998).
Organizational scholars have struggled with a related and parallel line of concern: What constitutes

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Robert A. Giacalone et al.

an organizations social responsibility? Considerations within this applied field of positive psychology
have taken two rather divergent approaches, one
which posits that the primary corporate responsibility is financial performance (Friedman, 1970/
1983; Marcoux, 2003, and another which considers
financial performance as but one aspect of a much
broader matrix of corporations responsibility. This
latter configuration includes corporate responsibility
to constituencies such as employees, customers,
suppliers, and the broader community; this is generally referred to as stakeholder management
(Clarkson Centre for Business Ethics, 1999; Freeman, 1984) or multi-fiduciary management
(Freeman, 1994). Within the context of the present
study, this complexity is manifested in consumer
sensitivity to corporate social performance.

Consumer sensitivity to corporate social


performance
The items that comprise a measure of consumer sensitivity, the Consumer Sensitivity to Corporate Social
Performance Scale (CSCSP), demonstrate a stakeholder or multi-fiduciary orientation. Respondents
who agree with these items reject financial maximization as the singular consideration driving managerial
decision-making and, instead, endorse a managerial
role that balances different responsibilities (moral as
well as financial criteria) so as to improve society (e.g.
to help create a healthier physical environment, better
relations with employees, and greater responsiveness
to investors). Consumers who are sensitive to corporate social performance have values aligned with
movements (e.g. green consumerism and socially
responsible investing) which attempt to bring the
corporation toward multi-fiduciary management.
While no studies have demonstrated a direct link
between these consumer-oriented values and positive psychological dispositions, a considerable body
of work establishes links between positive psychological domains such as spirituality (Cavanagh
and Bandsuch, 2002; Epstein, 2002; Giacalone and
Jurkiewicz, 2003; Jackson, 1999; Jurkiewicz and
Giacalone, 2004), corporate character (Stoll, 2002),
and minimizing self-interest (Carson, 2003) with
business ethics. Nonetheless, there are strong theoretical reasons why positive psychology should be

linked to CSCSP. Green consumers and socially


responsible investors want to make the world a
better place and believe it can be achieved (Ray,
1996), an inclination which is the very foundation of
both CSCSP and the life-affirming, more constructive approaches within positive psychology
(Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). From the
very early schemes published by the Council for
Economic Priorities (Shopping for a Better World,
1988) to the classification of corporate social performance used by KLD that underlies the Domini
Index and the Domini Funds (Kurtz, 1997), those
supporting ethical criteria as a foundation for consumer decisions are attempting to use their influence
in life-affirming ways on behalf of constituencies
traditionally silenced in normal managerial
decision-making, such as women and minorities, as
well as those supportive of environmental issues
(Ruf et al., 1996). Though these individuals may
diverge in terms of their methods and dominant
concerns (Beal and Goyen, 1998; Lampe and
French, 2002), their collective worldview includes a
vision of a better future, of the ethical nature of
ordinary purchasing decisions, and of the efficacy of
the consumer as an instrument of social change
(Burke, 2002). This orientation is bespeaks the essence of positive psychology.

The relationship of positive psychology


and CSCSP
Two dispositions, gratitude and hope, are philosophically related to consumer sensitivity.
McCullough et al. (2001) conceptualize gratitude as
a moral affect that serves to motivate individuals to
engage in prosocial behavior and serves as a moral
barometer that provides an affective readout
(Emmons, 2003). Research has demonstrated that
gratitude impacts both the behavior of the grateful
individual as well as the behavior of others within
the circle of expression of such gratitude. For
example, Clarke et al. (1988) found that the
expression of gratitude by clients resulted in an increase in visitations by case managers, and the when
such expressions of gratitude stopped, visitations
decreased to nearly their original levels.
Emmons and McCullough (2003) found that
grateful individuals not only demonstrated more

A Preliminary Investigation into the Role of Positive Psychology


positive mental states (e.g. enthusiastic, determined,
and attentive), but were also more generous, caring,
and helpful to others. This positive concern toward
others is demonstrated in the ratings of independent
assessors, who found grateful individuals to be more
prosocial as well (McCullough et al. 2002). Such
prosocial inclinations could be expected to generalize to the macro level (as would green consumers),
where concerns for others would be felt at a societal
rather than an interpersonal level.
A similar connection can be found in the work on
hope. Snyder et al. (1991, p. 287) define hope as a
positive motivational state that is based on an
interactively derived sense of successful (a) agency
(goal-directed energy) and (b) pathways (planning to
meet goals). Snyder et al. (1991) found that individuals high in hope were more positive in their
appraisal of life goals (i.e. felt able to effectively reach
their goals). This dispositional inclination translates
into an interpersonal ability to solve problems as
well, with individuals high in hope reporting greater
social problem-solving abilities than those who are
low in hope (Chang, 1998). Thus, increasing levels
of hope should result in higher expectations of social
problem-solving, particularly in terms of organizational and cultural issues such as social responsibility,
where high-hope individuals are thought to play a
significant role (Schwartz and Post, 2002).

Present study
The present study extends the results of hope and
gratitude research toward an understanding of consumer sensitivity toward corporate social performance. If gratitude is associated with greater
prosocial behavior, grateful individuals could be
expected to demonstrate more concern for corporate
social performance. Additionally, because hope is
associated with both agency to accomplish a goal and
pathways for achieving that goal, hopeful individuals
should sense a greater ability to impact corporate
social responsibility and increased confidence in
the pathways to do so. Also, it is predicted that
the impact of gratitude on consumer sensitivity will
be moderated by individual level of hope, since
individuals who do not perceive that their prosocial actions can accomplish a goal (support of
socially responsible companies or punishment of

297

socially responsible companies) would logically be


less likely to engage in such behaviors. Thus the
following hypothesis is offered:
H1a: When hope is high, increasing levels of gratitude
will result in increasing levels of CSCSP.
H1b: When hope is low, there will be no impact of
gratitude on levels of CSCSP

Method
Sample and procedures
The data was collected at two points in time. Time 1
(T1) consisted of measures assessing respondents
transcendent measures of hope and gratitude. Three
weeks later, at Time 2 (T2), consumer sensitivity to
corporate social performance was assessed.
Time 1 sample, procedure, and measures. As part of a
larger class assignment, 38 MBA students from a
large, public university in the southeastern U.S. each
volunteered to provide the e-mails of up to seven
adults living in the United States who were working
full-time and held managerial or technical/professional positions; students secured the permission
from their participants prior to submitting their addresses to the researchers. An e-mail cover letter was
sent to the resulting sample of 266 adults guaranteeing their confidentiality and asking them to
complete an attached questionnaire; fifteen surveys
were returned as undeliverable. Respondents were
advised that a second questionnaire would also be
sent to them in three weeks. Three days following
the original e-mail, a reminder e-mail was sent.
Respondents were administered the Gratitude
Questionnaire (GQ-6) (McCullough et al., 2002), a
six-item self-report questionnaire designed to assess
individual differences in inclination to experience
gratitude in daily life. Respondents rated each item
on a 7-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (strongly
disagree) to 7 (strongly agree), and their ratings were
summed. Previous studies have shown acceptable
Cronbachs alpha estimates (McCullough et al.,
2002). Representative items include I have so
much in life to be thankful for and If I had to list
everything that I felt grateful for, it would be a very
long list.
Respondents also were administered the 12 item
Adult Dispositional Hope Scale (Snyder et al. 1996).

Robert A. Giacalone et al.

298

Respondents rated each item on a 4-point Likert scale


ranging from 1 (definitely false) to 4 (definitely true).
Four items are distracters and not used for scoring.
Four items are summed to create the Pathways subscale score; the remaining four items are summed to
create the agency subscale. Hope is the sum of the 4
Pathways and 4 Agency items. Representative pathways items include I can think of many ways to get
out of a jam and There are lots of ways around any
problem; representative agency items include I
energetically pursue my goals and My past experiences have prepared me well for my future.
Time 2 sample, procedure, and measure. Three
weeks following the administration of the first survey, a second survey was sent to respondents who
had completed the first one. A total of 146 surveys
were returned, with 133 of these fully completed for
a response rate of 50%. Of the individuals who
completed both surveys, 56% were between the ages

of 2535, 49.7% females and 63% were working for


their organizations 15 years. There were no significant differences between those who completed
Time 1 alone and those who completed both Time
1 and Time 2 (ps > 0.10).
The CSCSP was administered to assess consumer
sensitivity. The CSCSP is an 11 item scale developed by Paul et al. (1997) to measure a consumers
sensitivity to corporate actions related to pollution,
corporate philanthropy, and disclosure of social
information. Items were measured on a 1 (strongly
disagree) to 5 (strongly agree) scale, and were
summed to provide a total score. Representative
items include I would be willing to pay a little
more to buy a product from a company that has a
good record in hiring and promoting women and
I would be willing to pay a little more to buy a
product from a company that has good environmental practices.

TABLE I
Summary table of descriptive statistics and intercorrelations for the predictor variables (hope, pathways, agency,
and gratitude) and criterion variable (Consumer sensitivity)
Variable
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Hope
Pathways
Agency
Gratitude
Consumer sensitivity

SD

25.92
12.61
13.31
37.99
37.15

2.52
1.54
1.44
4.41
6.71

(0.69)
0.86***
0.84***
0.35***
0.19*

(0.51)
0.44***
0.23**
0.20**

(0.64)
0.37***
0.12

(0.71)
0.18*

(0.88)

N = 133. Cronbachs alpha levels for each scale are reported in parenthesis on the diagonal. *p < 0.05. **p < 0.01.
***p < 0.001.

TABLE II
Agency X gratitude, pathways X gratitude, and hope X gratitude multiple regression results
Agency X gratitude multiple
regression results

Agency
Gratitude
Interaction
Df
F
4R2

Step 1

Step 2

0.06
0.16

)2.06*
)1.85
3.43*
3,128
3.17*
0.03*

2,129
2.46
0.04

Pathways X gratitude
multiple regression results

Pathways
Gratitude
Interaction
Df
F
4R2

Step 1

Step 2

0.17
0.15

)1.66
)1.52
2.74
3,128
4.05**
0.03

2,129
4.12*
0.06*

N =133. Tabled values are standardized regression weights. *p < 0.05; **p < 0.01.

Hope X gratitude multiple


regression results

Hope
Gratitude
Interaction
Df
F
4R2

Step 1

Step 2

0.15
0.13

0.08
0.25*
0.23*
2,128
4.26**
0.04*

2,129
3.52*
0.05*

A Preliminary Investigation into the Role of Positive Psychology

299

Results

Study 2

Descriptive statistics
Table I summarizes the means, standard deviations,
and correlations among the variables.

Because gratitude is firmly related in the experience


one has with others (McCullough et al., 2002) and
hope is a function of ones own sense of agency and
the ability to find appropriate pathways to a goal
(Snyder et al., 1996), we wondered whether more
selfless orientations would predict CSCSP. Because
sensitivity is other-focused, positive psychological
dimensions focused on concerns that are beyond
oneself (e.g. the greater good, community, the
generations that follow) should predict CSCSP as
well. In reviewing the literature, we found two
positive psychology dimensions that were concerned
with increasing levels of self-transcendence: personal
spirituality and generativity.
As Giacalone and Jurkiewicz (2003a, b) have noted, spirituality is conceptually multi-faceted (DiPadova, 1998: Spohn, 1997), can encompass a wide
dimension of human experience, and can include a
variety of values, attitudes, perspectives, beliefs, and
emotions (Elkins et al., 1988). But while definitions
may vary, most include a descriptor of transcendence,
ultimacy, or divinity (Giacalone and Jurkiewicz,
2003a). The link between spiritual transcendence and
CSCSP is best seen in the direct positive relationship
between spirituality and postmaterialist values, a
constellation of individual values driven by concerns
for quality of life, belongingness, sense of community,
and social equity (Giacalone and Jurkiewicz, 2003a, b;
Inglehart, 1997; Ray 1997). Those holding this
postmaterialist orientation (Inglehart, 1977), are driven by a concern for transcendent ideals that are
spiritual (Inglehart, 1990, 1997), concerned with life
meaning and purpose (Inglehart, 1989), and are more
likely to be a part of social movements that foster these
ideals (Inglehart, 1989, 1990, 1997). Because such
spiritual ideals are concerned with greater concern for
social outcomes (e.g. community, quality of life, and
social equity), we predicted that spirituality would be
similarly associated with greater concern for CSCSP
and the social outcomes associated therein.

Regression
The CSCSP score was regressed on hope and
gratitude (Step 1) and on the interaction term of
hope and gratitude (Step 2). Table II shows that
while the overall R2 for the first step explained a
significant amount of variance, neither hope nor
gratitude were significant predictors. In the second
step, as predicted, we find a significant interaction
of the two which explains an additional 4% of the
variance. To determine the nature of this interaction, it was probed and plotted using the method
recommended by Aiken and West (1991). First, the
regression equation was restructured to represent
the regression of CSCSP on idealism at low and
high levels of hope. Low and high values of hope
were computed as one standard deviation below
the mean and one standard deviation above the
mean, respectively. Then, the simple slopes of the
equations were evaluated to determine if they differed from zero. We found that when hope is high,
increasing levels of gratitude result in increases on
the CSCSP score. When hope is low, however,
there is no impact of gratitude on the CSCSP
score.
In order to determine whether the interaction
effect was a function of the agency or pathways
subscores, two additional regressions were performed, using each of the hope subscores, respectively. As Tables II demonstrates, only the agency X
gratitude interaction was shown to significantly
predict CSCSP scores. Using the method described
above, low and high values of agency were computed as one standard deviation below the mean and
one standard deviation above the mean, respectively. Then, the simple slopes of the equations
were evaluated to determine if they differed from
zero. We found that the interaction results were
virtually identical to those found in the overall hope
x gratitude interaction. That is, when agency is
high, increasing levels of gratitude result in increases
on the CSCSP score. When agency is low, however, there is no impact of gratitude on the CSCSP
score.

Generativity
An enhanced emphasis on transcendence can be
found in those with higher levels of generativity
(Giacalone and Jurkiewicz, 2003a, b; McAdams, 1985).

Robert A. Giacalone et al.

300

Sample and Procedures

Generativity is a multifaceted psychosocial construct


that reflects how individuals are concerned with and
respond to the next generation (McAdams and de
St. Aubin, 1992; McAdams et al., 1998). In relation to
CSCSP, generativity is about assuming the role of
being a responsible citizen, and a contributing member
of a community who engenders positive outcomes for
the generations that follow (see McAdams et al., 1998).
The relationship between generativity and social
measures is consistently strong. For example, it correlates highly with measures of sense of community and
political efficacy among women (Cole and Stewart,
1996), is positively associated with social involvement
variables (e.g. social support, political participation)
(Hart et al., 2001). More importantly, there is a consistent positive relationship between an individuals
generative concern and actions (McAdams et al.,
1998). Thus, it was expected that:

As part of a required class project, 123 students enrolled in graduate courses at business schools at two
large southern United States universities were
administered and completed each of the measures
that were given to each respondent at one week
intervals. None of the participants in Study 1 were
part of this sample. Each respondent received an
optical scan sheet for each of the measures administered. The sample was 53% female and 61% reported 2635 as their age range.
In order to maintain anonymity and still be able to
match each respondents weekly survey to those
previously completed, respondents were asked to
create a fictitious name. This alias became their code
name and allowed us to match individual responses for
each measure to measures completed in later weeks.
The Human Spirituality Scale (HSS) (Wheat,
unpublished doctoral dissertation) was used to assess
substantive individual attributes constituting personal
spirituality (e.g. beliefs and attitudes). Previous work
(Belaire and Young, 2000) showed that this measure
was successful in assessing spirituality. The HSS is a
20-item instrument with Likert-type scaling, ranging
from 1 (constantly) to 5 (never) for each item.
Respondent scores can range from 20 to 100 and are
attained by summing the ratings given to all 20 items
(Belaire and Young, 2000; Wheat, unpublished
doctoral dissertation). Representative items for this
scale are I experience a sense of the sacred in living
things and I set aside time for personal reflection
and growth.
The Loyola Generativity Scale (LGS) (McAdams
and de St. Aubin, 1992) was used to assess generativity. The LGS is a 20-item scale that assesses the
concern for and commitment to the next generation

H2a: An increase in personal spirituality will be


associated with increased CSCSP.
H2b: Individual levels of generativity will be positively related to CSCSP scores.
H2c: When generativity is high, increasing levels of
spirituality will result in increased CSCSP.
H2d: When generativity is low, levels of spirituality
should not impact CSCSP.

While generativity and spirituality are related


concepts, there are significant differences in their
conceptualization (Giacalone and Jurkiewicz, 2003a,
b). Therefore, it is predicted that both generativity
and spirituality will explain unique variance in
CSCSP scores, although there is no theoretical reason to anticipate an interaction.

TABLE III
Summary table of descriptive statistics and intercorrelations for the predictor variables (personal spirituality
and generativity) and criterion variable (consumer sensitivity)
Variable
1. Personal Spirituality
2. Generativity
3. Consumer Sensitivity

SD

76.72
59.63
38.51

9.10
7.66
5.13

(0.86)
0.43**
0.39**

(0.82)
0.48**

(0.77)

N = 123. Alpha levels for each scale are reported in parenthesis on the diagonal. **p < 0.001.

A Preliminary Investigation into the Role of Positive Psychology


and features items such as I try to be creative in
most things I do and I have important skills that I
try to teach others. Participants rate each item using
a 4-point Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (statement
never applies to me) to 4 (statement always applies to
me). The scale shows high internal consistency
(Cronbachs of 0.82 and 0.83 in McAdams and de
St. Aubin, 1992). LGS scores have been shown to be
positively correlated with generative actions, generativity strivings in daily life, and themes of
generativity in autobiographical recollections
(McAdams and de St. Aubin, 1992).
The CSCSP Scale, used in the first study, was
administered and scored in the same way.

Results
Descriptive Statistics
Table III summarizes the means, standard deviations,
and correlations among the variables.
Regression
The CSCSP score was regressed on the personality
spirituality (HSS) and generativity (LGS) scores
(Step 1). For the sake of consistency of analysis, we
also regressed CSCSP on the interaction term of the
HSS and LGS scores (Step 2). Table IV shows that
both personal spirituality and generativity explained
significant variance 27% in the CSCSP score.
However, as expected, there was no significant
interaction effect (p > 0.05).

TABLE IV
Personal spirituality X generativity
multiple regression results

Personal spirituality
Generativity
Interaction
Df
F
AR2

Step 1

Step 2

0.39**
0.22*

0.46
0.31
)0.14
3,119
14.78**
0.00

2,120
22.35**
0.27**

N =123. *p < 0.01; **p < 0.001 Tabled values are


standardized regression weights.

301

Discussion
The study demonstrates a clear relationship between
positive psychological dispositions and consumer
sensitivity to corporate social performance. As predicted, increasing levels of gratitude, typically associated with prosocial behavior, interact with higher
levels of hope to increase individual sensitivity to
corporate social performance. Similarly, both generativity and personal spirituality are positively related to consumer sensitivity as well.
These results show that sensitivity to corporate
performance is, in part, a function of a positive
psychological worldview. Hope and gratitude, as
dispositional elements, promote concern for big
picture issues and impact sensitivity to social performance. Gratitude is moderated by hope, such that
those who are hopeful are more willing to engage in
activities that will have a positive social impact.
Similarly, those with transcendent values should be
engaged in activities that consider the long-term
impact of their behaviors; our data demonstrated
these values are associated with sensitivity to social
performance. What is unknown, given the construction of the study, is whether hope and gratitude
will interact with the transcendent values.
The implications of these results points toward an
understanding of consumer social responsibility as
driven by individual differences. As expected, how
consumers respond to socially irresponsible corporate behavior may not be solely a function of what
they learn from press reports and activists, but of
dispositions which predate the corporate misbehavior and are based in a more positive worldview.
More importantly, the relationship between positive dispositions and behaviors may not be simple
main effect relationships, but as in this study, more
complicated relationships involving interactions.
Previous work has shown that behaviors consistent
with positive psychology traits may be moderated by a
host of other factors, including a belief in the goodness
and worth of human life (Erikson, 1963; Giddens,
1991; McAdams et al., 1998) and social/cultural
context (Cohler et al., 1998; Moran, 1998). The life
domain in which the issue of social responsibility is
placed may be extremely important. Both in the area
of generativity (McAdams et al., 1998; McDermid
et al., 1998; Peterson and Stewart, 1993) and hope
(Campbell and Kwon, 2001; Snyder et al., 1997), we

302

Robert A. Giacalone et al.

find that life domain issues impact the form and level
of these variables. An individuals sensitivity to corporate social performance may be a function of how a
questionable corporate activity relates to the individuals level of hope or perceived role within a
particular life domain. Thus, an individual may exhibit high levels of hope or generative concern for
children and may be sensitive to corporate abuses in
this area. Conversely, this same individual may have
low levels of hope or generative concern for the
quality of life of the poor and therefore react different
to corporate abuses related to mistreatment of the
underprivileged. Therefore, these results must be
viewed cautiously, realizing that further research will
need to determine the extent to which life domain
issues may augment or diminish sensitivity.

Future directions
Overall, the results must be considered in terms of
limitations in the study itself. In calling attention to
these limitations, directions for future research suggest
themselves. First, this is self-report data, and, as such,
subject to potential biases and problems with common
method variance, where both measures come from
the same source (e.g. Podsakoff and Organ, 1986).
Additional work, using independent ratings of
CSCSP, will be needed to determine whether this is a
factor that may moderate the findings reported here.
Second, while the results were significant, the R2 in
the analyses were relatively low in the first study and
modest in the second study. The amount of R2 indicates that while these positive psychological constructs
play a role in CSCSP, a considerable amount of variance remains unaccounted. While this is certainly not
uncommon in behavioral research, it does warrant the
investigation of other variables, such as ethical ideology (Forsyth, 1992) that may account for additional
variance. Still, it is worth noting that even small effect
sizes may have a meaningful practical consequence
(Endler, 1973), particularly in a domain such as
CSCSP, where consumer responses may have significant ramifications for the organizations bottom line.
Third, although this study provides provocative
results, a weakness is that actual behaviors were
not measured, and thus it is not possible to say that
positive psychological dispositions are associated
with socially responsible behaviors. Still, previous

work on gratitude and generativity, for example,


shows a significant positive relationship between these
measures and behaviors that reflect the concepts
(McCullough et al., 2002; McAdams et al., 1998).
Future research will undoubtedly need to make this
link directly for socially responsible behaviors.
Fourth because this study focused on consumer
sensitivity to social responsibility, it will be necessary
to determine whether these effects generalize to
sensitivity to social responsibility more broadly (as a
citizen activist, for example) and from the standpoint
of an employee or manager within an organization.
Other measures, such as the one developed by
Aupperle (1984) or Singhapakdi et al., (1996) to
measure social responsibility, can provide tools for
investigating individual social responsibility concerns
from the vantage of different stakeholder groups. It
may be useful to understand whether the impact of
gratitude and hope generalize to ethical work inclinations (Froelich and Kottke, 1991) as well.
Finally, the present study investigated only four of
many possible positive psychological behaviors and
dispositions (see Snyder and Lopez (2000), for detailed discussion of other dispositions and traits).
Within the burgeoning literature in positive organizational behavior, research investigations into the
relationship of social responsibility and meaningfulness, altruism, compassion, humility, and optimism
may further elucidate the relationship of positive
psychology to social responsibility. Because of the
potential intercorrelations among these variables, it
will important to determine their relative power in
explaining social responsibility.
Though much research needs to be done in this
nascent area, the results of these studies provide an
impetus for future research on the role of positive
psychology in ethics and social responsibility.
Understanding the decisions of socially responsible
consumers is important, since the growth of the
Cultural Creative demographic group, which is seen
as the appropriate target for socially responsible
investment products (Kurtz, 2002; Ray, 1996) is a
considerable demographic force. Undoubtedly, the
growing role and development of basic positive
psychology theory and research within psychological
research also will modify the direction of future
investigations into social responsibility. What we
learn may help us better comprehend the role positive psychological dispositions play in predicting

A Preliminary Investigation into the Role of Positive Psychology


stakeholder expectations and behaviors relating to
business ethics and social responsibility.
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Robert A. Giacalone
Fox School of Business Administration and Management,
Temple University, 1810 N. 13th st.,
Philadelphia, PA
19122,
U.S.A.
E-mail: ragiacal@temple.edu
Karen Paul
Alvah H. Chapman Graduate School of Business Administration,
Florida International University
Carole L. Jurkiewicz
Public Administration Institute, E.J. Ourso College of Business
Administration, Louisiana State University,
Baton Rouge, LA 70803,
U.S.A.