Can Protection Motivation Theory and Moral Licensing Explain Consumer Behaviour During the Covid-19 Pandemic?
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- Master of Science 
This thesis addresses how protection motivation theory and moral licensing can explain consumer behaviour in times of crisis, using the Covid-19 pandemic as a context for the research. The results of 53 in-depth interviews illustrate that the perceived threat of Covid-19 influences both threat and coping appraisal, and consequently also licensing effects due to the sacrifices associated with protective behaviours. The research provided interesting discoveries regarding the significance of perceived Covid-19 threat and response costs on consumers’ motivation to engage in protective behaviours. Specifically, the findings uncovered a great perceived threat manifested in spreading the virus. In fact, it appeared that a common motivation for engaging in protective behaviours was to protect vulnerable groups from infection. Further, it also appeared that consumers willingly complied with the restrictions and recommendations despite the great response costs. The research also investigated whether sacrifices associated with protective behaviours triggered licensing effects among consumers. The results uncovered situations where such sacrifices may provide consumers with a moral license to engage in self-destructive behaviours. Similarly, the findings also revealed that some of the respondents who sacrificed travel might gain a moral license to engage in environmentally damaging behaviours. Consequently, the findings from this research make an important contribution to understanding how consumers react to threat and restrictions caused by responses to the Covid-19 pandemic, and may also be relevant in case of future hazards.
Masteroppgave(MSc) in Master of Science in Strategic Marketing Management - Handelshøyskolen BI, 2021