Date of Award

Summer 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Business Administration-Marketing

Committee Director

Anusorn Singhapakdi

Committee Member

Aaron Arndt

Committee Member

Lance Frazier


This dissertation addresses how and what ethical expectations (prior to conducting business) affect customer trust of the salesperson. In order to do so, this dissertation achieves two things. First, a scale for measuring the consumer’s expectations of salesperson unethicality (CESU) is systematically developed and validated based on the existing ethics literature and previously developed scales. Second, the scale’s properties and potential application are examined through hypothesis testing regarding the effects of (1) word of mouth on brand equity and consumer’s expectations of unethicality, and the effects of (2) brand equity and consumer’s expectations of unethicality on trust of the salesperson. The result is a thoroughly validated scale that is useful to both researchers and managers in sales-oriented industries.

Such a scale can be used by sales-focused businesses to measure consumer expectations in order to help salespeople better understand the target market and allow managers to better focus ethics training efforts. The scale achieves this with an understanding of what the consumer expects from the salesperson, based on factors such as word of mouth and brand equity. Unlike other scales used to measure ethicality, potential unethical behaviors listed in the CESU scale are industry-specific.