The unintended effect of Corporate Social Responsibility performance on investors' estimates of fundamental value

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We provide theory and experimental evidence consistent with an unintended, causal relation between Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) performance and investors' estimates of fundamental value that can be attenuated by investors' explicit assessment of CSR performance. Consistent with "affect-as- information" theory from psychology, we find that investors who are exposed to, but do not explicitly assess, CSR performance derive higher fundamental value estimates in response to positive CSR performance, and lower fundamental value estimates in response to negative CSR performance. Explicit assessment of CSR performance, however, significantly diminishes this effect, indicating that the effect among investors who do not explicitly assess CSR performance is unintended; i.e., they unintentionally use their affective reactions to CSR performance in estimating fundamental value. Supplemental findings shed light on consequences of these fundamental value estimates: investors who do not explicitly assess CSR performance rely on their unintentionally influenced estimates of fundamental value to increase the price they are willing to pay to invest in the stock of a firm with positive CSR performance. Overall, our theory and findings contribute to the CSR and affect literatures in accounting by revealing the contingent nature of how and to what extent CSR performance influences investors' beliefs about firm value and the bids these investors are likely to make in equity markets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-302
Number of pages28
JournalAccounting Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014



  • Affect as information
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Fundamental value
  • Investor awareness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics

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