Parimal S. Bhagat, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Eun Hwang, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Published in

Volume 19, Issue 4, p57-68, December 2019


Individuals spend a lot of their resources – time, money, and intellect – on consumption activities ranging from necessities (consumer staples) to non-necessities (consumer discretionary). While the consumer has rights when it comes to engaging in commerce, he has responsibilities as well when participating in the exchange. Such people-oriented behavior is complementary to the respective pillar in the "triple bottom line" model of sustainability. This paper seeks to measure the impact of three antecedents in the model: (1) Cultural Sensitivity, (2) Empathic Acuity, and (3) Social Efficacy, on the consequence Empathically-Responsible Consumption. Several hypotheses are forwarded and example of items included in each scale to operationalize the model variables provided. Survey methodology was used to collect data. Reliability and internal consistency of each scale were tested. The fit of the model was tested using multiple regression analysis. Most of the hypotheses were confirmed except for one. While the impact of antecedents Empathic Acuity and Social Efficacy on the consequence Empathically-Responsible Consumption was found to be positive and statistically significant, Cultural Sensitivity was found to attenuate the impact on the consequence. While extensive research exists on the relationships within the supply-side (service-provider side) of the triple-bottom-line (Planet, People, Profit) framework, this is the only research which examines one the three reciprocal concepts – People-oriented – from the demand-side (customer-side). This paper acknowledges the responsibilities of the consumer/customer in the relationship with the service-provider.


Sustainable consumption; empathy quotient; cultural intelligence; social intelligence; trust.

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