Episode 6: Moral Licensing




Episode 6: Moral Licensing 


Wikipedia describes moral licensing as follows...
Self-licensing (aka noble cause corruption, moral self-licensing, moral licensing, licensing effect, moral credential effect) is a term used in social psychology and marketing to describe the subconscious phenomenon whereby increased confidence and security in one's self-image or self-concept tends to make that individual worry less about the consequences of subsequent immoral behavior and, therefore, more likely to make immoral choices and act immorally.[1][2][3][4][5][6] In simple terms, self-licensing occurs when people allow themselves to indulge after doing something positive first; for example, drinking a diet soda with a greasy hamburger and fries can lead one to subconsciously discount the negative attributes of the meal's high caloric and cholesterol content.[7]

A large subset of this effect, the moral credential effect, is a bias that occurs when a person's track record as a good egalitarian establishes in them an unconscious ethical certification, endorsement, or license that increases the likelihood of less egalitarian decisions later. This effect occurs even when the audience or moral peer group is unaware of the affected person's previously established moral credential. For example, individuals who had the opportunity to recruit a woman or African American person in one setting were more likely to say later, in a different setting, that a job would be better suited for a man or a Caucasian person.[8] Similar effects also appear to occur when a person observes another person from a group they identify with making an egalitarian decision.[9]

Self-licensing can have negative societal consequences since it has a permissive effect on behaviors such as racial prejudice and discrimination, selfishness, poor dietary and health habits, and excessive energy consumption.




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