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A little good is good enough: Ethical consumption, cheap excuses, and moral self-licensing

Engel, Jannis; Szech, Nora

Abstract:
This paper explores the role of cheap excuses in product choice. If a product improves upon one ethically relevant dimension, agents may care less about other independent ethical facets of the product. Opting for a product that fulfills one ethical aspect may thus suffice for keeping a high moral self-image in agents, and render it easier to ignore other ethically relevant aspects they would otherwise care about. The use of such cheap excuses could thus lead to a ‘static moral self-licensing’ effect. This would extend the logic of the well-known moral self-licensing over time.
Our experimental study provides empirical evidence that the static counterpart of moral self-licensing exists. Furthermore, effects spill over to unrelated, ethically relevant contexts later in time. Thus, static moral self-licensing and moral self-licensing over time can amplify each other. Outsiders, though monetarily incentivized for correct estimates, are completely oblivious to the effects of moral selflicensing, both, static and over time.


Zugehörige Institution(en) am KIT Institut für Volkswirtschaftslehre (ECON)
Publikationstyp Forschungsbericht
Jahr 2017
Sprache Englisch
Identifikator DOI(KIT): 10.5445/IR/1000068513
ISSN: 2190-9806
URN: urn:nbn:de:swb:90-685139
KITopen ID: 1000068513
Verlag KIT, Karlsruhe
Umfang 48 S.
Serie Working paper series in economics ; 102
Schlagworte moral self-licensing, moral spillovers, cheap excuses, outsider beliefs, moral personality
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