Examining the Role of Inequality in Security Consumption

Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
A growing body of evidence suggests that economic inequality causes humans to take more risks and engage in aggressive behaviours. In a ‘winner-takes-all’ environment, risky activities such as gambling, lying, and crime can be a person’s only means of keeping up with competitors and accessing contested resources. There is comparatively little research investigating whether people anticipate risk-taking and conflict from their neighbors in unequal environments. An informative context for examining the distrust-inducing effects of inequality is the security market, which offers goods that protect customers from the actions of malicious agents. For instance, barred windows are purchased because they (supposedly) protect consumers from break-ins. Given the costly nature of these security products, security consumption is generally only worthwhile if a consumer expects that other people have harmful intentions. This project provides evidence that economic inequality increases consumers’ willingness to purchase security products through three studies: 1) experimental manipulations of inequality in an economic game context, 2) experimental manipulations of distributional fairness and income visibility, and 3) multilevel analyses of the effects of nation-level inequality (k = 32) on individuals’ consumption of security goods (n = 79,776).
Inequality, security products, precautionary behaviours, fear of crime, distrust, risk-taking, risk avoidance
Novakowski, D. (2022). Examining the role of inequality in security consumption (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from https://prism.ucalgary.ca. University of Calgary, Calgary, AB.