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
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
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