Barry McNamara  |   Published December 18, 2019

It’s Money That Matters

Political consumerism is not widespread, according to survey by Monmouth political science class.
  • Students in the “Political Psychology” course received 1,205 responses from individuals in all 50 states to their 10-minute survey on political consumerism. 

MONMOUTH, Ill. – Although political polarization in the United States is running high, a survey by a Monmouth College class found that people are affected less by politics when it comes to making purchases.

Economics, rather than politics, drives most consumers’ choices.

ANDRE AUDETTE: ?What we found with today's consumers is that, for the most part, people are looki... ANDRE AUDETTE: “What we found with today's consumers is that, for the most part, people are looking for the best deal.”During the College’s recently concluded fall semester, students in professor Andre Audette’s “Political Psychology” course received 1,205 responses from individuals in all 50 states to their 10-minute survey on political consumerism. Audette defines political consumerism as “whether people are more willing to shop at stores that express political values like their own and whether people are willing to pay more to engage in this type of behavior.”

“What we found with today’s consumers is that, for the most part, people are looking for the best deal,” said Audette, who directed the study. “If the deals are comparable, they might practice political consumerism, but our findings showed they’re not willing to pay that much more.”

“In a time when it seems that political polarization has infiltrated every aspect of our lives, it was great to see through our project that at least the majority of Americans don’t let the fiery rhetoric in Washington affect their day-to-day lives,” said one of Audette’s students, Emma Hildebrand ’21 of Mendon, Ill. “I honestly wasn’t too surprised. As a political science major, politics are on my mind 24/7, but for most people, that’s just not the case.”

Audette’s students came up with the topic and designed the survey. Although the students found that political consumerism does not register at a high level, when they broke down responses by party affiliation, they learned that Democrats are most likely to engage in that type of behavior.

“We didn’t come up with a conclusive reason for why that was, but we did have a couple theories,” said Audette. “One is that since Democrats aren’t in power with the presidency or in the United States Senate, maybe this is their way to engage in politics. The other is that Democrats are generally younger and more female, and our findings showed that women were more likely to engage in political consumerism.”

Although the term “political consumerism” only became popular in this century, Audette said the practice has “been around forever.”

“There are lots of examples of it historically, such as people not supporting businesses that used sweatshop labor,” said Audette.

Recent examples of political consumerism cited by Audette include boycotts of Nike after the company supported Colin Kaepernick, and of Chick-Fil-A because of the fast-food restaurant’s support of anti-gay marriage organizations.

Cutting-edge research

This was the third such survey that Audette’s classes have run. The first examined support for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – also known as DACA – program. The second survey looked at social media in politics and people’s opinions on political scandals.

“This survey, in particular, was a nice example of students gaining hands-on research experience and creating new knowledge for the field of political psychology,” said Audette. “There hasn’t been much research done on political consumerism, so this was a cutting-edge experience for the students.”

Audette said there is also the potential for publishing the students’ findings in an academic journal.

Hildebrand said those findings were encouraging to her.

“This project definitely shined a light on the fact that our country’s foundation is built with room for polarization and disagreement,” said Hildebrand. “I think that in the long run, we will see a positive trend of America coming back together again.”

Back to News & Events

Did you know?

  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College is proudly test optional. Applicants may choose whether or to submit SAT or ACT scores for admission and scholarship consideration. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/admission/apply/test-optional/" target="_blank">Test Optional</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College has an active Pipe & Drum Band. Each year on Scholar’s Day in April the bagpipers wake students up at 6:00 a.m. by playing in the residence halls!</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/music/pipe-band/" target="_blank">Pipe Band</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> 98% of Monmouth graduates were employed or enrolled in graduate school within six months of graduation.</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/wackerle-center/career-services/" target="_blank">Career Preparation</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College offers several international trips each year during 2-week Scots Terms in January and May. Recently students have traveled to Botswana, Greece, Scotland, Japan, and more. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_urls"><a href="" target="_blank">Scots Term</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> 99% of Monmouth students received some type of scholarship or financial assistance.</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/offices/student-financial-planning/types-of-aid/scholarships/" target="_blank">Scholarships</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p><strong>Monmouth College is the birthplace of the women’s fraternity movement. Pi Beta Phi, the first such collegiate women’s organization, was founded at Monmouth in 1867. It was followed three years later by Kappa Kappa Gamma. The two pioneering organizations today boast a total of 275 active chapters nationwide.</strong></p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/student-life/sororities-fraternities/" target="_blank">Sororities & Fraternities</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College offers unique academic minors in Global Public Health and Global Food Security for students who want to use their education to address global challenges. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/global-public-health/" target="_blank">Global Public Health</a></li><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/global-food-security/" target="_blank">Global Food Security</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> We’re no stranger to winning. Last year the Fighting Scots won Midwest Conference championships in Football, Women’s Soccer, Women’s Basketball and Men’s Track and Field. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_urls"><a href="" target="_blank">Fighting Scots</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College covers the cost for all current students to get a U.S. passport. Unlock access to over 198 different countries! We’ll even help with the paperwork :)</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/study-abroad/" target="_blank">Study Abroad</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College has an educational garden and 6.7 acre farm. Students grow and harvest fruits and vegetables to sell at the local farmer’s market. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_urls"><a href="" target="_blank">Garden & Farm</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> We offer a certified Peace Corps Preparation program that gives Peace Corps bound graduates a leg up in the application process.</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/peace-corps-prep/" target="_blank">Peace Corps Prep</a></li></ul></div></aside>