Beyond 'Being Good Frees Us to Be Bad:' Moral Self-Licensing and the Fabrication of Moral Credentials

P. A. M. Van Lange & J. W. Van Prooijen Van Prooijen, (Eds.), Cheating, corruption, and concealment: Roots of unethical behavior. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, Forthcoming

32 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2015

Date Written: April 14, 2015

Abstract

In this chapter, I demonstrate that people are remarkably adept at convincing themselves that they have a license to give into temptations. After briefly reviewing research showing that doing good deeds can increase people’s willingness to do bad ones, I offer an expanded view of moral self-licensing effects. Specifically, I discuss new work that reveals how people can feel morally licensed without doing good deeds, and I describe how people actively create and distort evidence of their virtue when they anticipate that they will need a moral license.

Keywords: ethics, morality, licensing, credentials, motivated reasoning

Suggested Citation

Effron, Daniel A., Beyond 'Being Good Frees Us to Be Bad:' Moral Self-Licensing and the Fabrication of Moral Credentials (April 14, 2015). P. A. M. Van Lange & J. W. Van Prooijen Van Prooijen, (Eds.), Cheating, corruption, and concealment: Roots of unethical behavior. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2594403

Daniel A. Effron (Contact Author)

London Business School ( email )

Sussex Place
Regent's Park
London, NW1 4SA
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.london.edu/faculty-and-research/faculty/profiles/effron-d#.VKxThFoz6ug

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