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

Engel, Jannis; Szech, Nora

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.

Volltext §
DOI: 10.5445/IR/1000068513
Cover der Publikation
Zugehörige Institution(en) am KIT Institut für Volkswirtschaftslehre (ECON)
Publikationstyp Forschungsbericht/Preprint
Publikationsjahr 2017
Sprache Englisch
Identifikator ISSN: 2190-9806
KITopen-ID: 1000068513
Verlag Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT)
Umfang 48 S.
Serie Working paper series in economics ; 102
Schlagwörter moral self-licensing, moral spillovers, cheap excuses, outsider beliefs, moral personality
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