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      Three Attempts to Replicate the Moral Licensing Effect

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          Abstract

          The present work includes three attempts to replicate the moral licensing effect by Sachdeva, Iliev, and Medin (2009). The original authors found that writing about positive traits led to lower donations to charity and decreased cooperative behavior. The first two replication attempts (student samples, 95% power based on the initial findings, N Study1 = 105, N Study2 = 150), did not confirm the original results. The third replication attempt (MTurk sample, 95% power based on a meta-analysis on self-licensing, N = 940) also did not confirm the moral licensing effect. We conclude that (1) there is as of yet no strong support for the moral self-regulation framework proposed in Sachdeva et al. (2009) (2) the manipulation used is unlikely to induce moral licensing, and (3) studies on moral licensing should use a neutral control condition.

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          Most cited references16

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          Do green products make us better people?

          Consumer choices reflect not only price and quality preferences but also social and moral values, as witnessed in the remarkable growth of the global market for organic and environmentally friendly products. Building on recent research on behavioral priming and moral regulation, we found that mere exposure to green products and the purchase of such products lead to markedly different behavioral consequences. In line with the halo associated with green consumerism, results showed that people act more altruistically after mere exposure to green products than after mere exposure to conventional products. However, people act less altruistically and are more likely to cheat and steal after purchasing green products than after purchasing conventional products. Together, our studies show that consumption is connected to social and ethical behaviors more broadly across domains than previously thought.
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            Sinning saints and saintly sinners: the paradox of moral self-regulation.

            The question of why people are motivated to act altruistically has been an important one for centuries, and across various disciplines. Drawing on previous research on moral regulation, we propose a framework suggesting that moral (or immoral) behavior can result from an internal balancing of moral self-worth and the cost inherent in altruistic behavior. In Experiment 1, participants were asked to write a self-relevant story containing words referring to either positive or negative traits. Participants who wrote a story referring to the positive traits donated one fifth as much as those who wrote a story referring to the negative traits. In Experiment 2, we showed that this effect was due specifically to a change in the self-concept. In Experiment 3, we replicated these findings and extended them to cooperative behavior in environmental decision making. We suggest that affirming a moral identity leads people to feel licensed to act immorally. However, when moral identity is threatened, moral behavior is a means to regain some lost self-worth.
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              Moral credentials and the expression of prejudice.

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                zsp
                Social Psychology
                Hogrefe Publishing
                1864-9335
                2151-2590
                May 2014
                2014
                : 45
                : 3
                : 232-238
                Affiliations
                [ 1 ] Tilburg University, The Netherlands
                [ 2 ] University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
                Author notes
                Irene Blanken, Department of Social Psychology, Tilburg University, PO Box 90153, 5000 LE Tilburg, The Netherlands, i.blanken@ 123456tilburguniversity.edu
                Article
                zsp_45_3_232
                10.1027/1864-9335/a000189
                d69ed5b9-0018-49d6-9790-b0918539202e
                History
                : February 28, 2013
                : December 3, 2013
                Categories
                Original Article

                Assessment, Evaluation & Research methods,Psychology,General social science,General behavioral science
                moral cleansing,moral licensing,self-regulation,replication

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