Moral cleansing and moral licenses: experimental evidence
AbstractResearch on moral cleansing and moral self-licensing has introduced dynamic considerations in the theory of moral behavior. Past bad actions trigger negative feelings that make people more likely to engage in future moral behavior to offset them. Symmetrically, past good deeds favor a positive self-perception that creates licensing effects, leading people to engage in behavior that is less likely to be moral. In short, a deviation from a â€œnormal state of beingâ€ is balanced with a subsequent action that compensates the prior behavior. We model the decision of an individual trying to reach the optimal level of moral self-worth over time and show that under certain conditions the optimal sequence of actions follows a regular pattern which combines good and bad actions. We conduct an economic experiment where subjects play a sequence of giving decisions (dictator games) to explore this phenomenon. We find that donation in the previous period affects present decisions and the sign is negative: participantsâ€™ behavior in every round is negatively correlated to what they did in the past. Hence donations over time seem to be the result of a regular pattern of self-regulation: moral licensing (being selfish after altruist) and cleansing (altruistic after selfish).
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by University of the Basque Country - Department of Foundations of Economic Analysis II in its series DFAEII Working Papers with number 2012-09.
Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Postal: Dpto. de Fundamentos del Análisis Económico II, = Facultad de CC. Económicas y Empresariales, Universidad del País Vasco, Avda. Lehendakari Aguirre 83, 48015 Bilbao, Spain
Other versions of this item:
- Brañas-Garza, Pablo & Bucheli, Marisa & Paz Espinosa, María & García-Muñoz, Teresa, 2013. "Moral Cleansing And Moral Licenses: Experimental Evidence," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 29(02), pages 199-212, July.
- Pablo Brañas-Garza & Marisa Bucheli & María Paz Espinosa & Teresa García-Muñoz, 2011. "Moral Cleansing and Moral Licenses: experimental evidence," Working Papers 11-16, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
- NEP-ALL-2012-10-20 (All new papers)
- NEP-CBE-2012-10-20 (Cognitive & Behavioural Economics)
- NEP-EVO-2012-10-20 (Evolutionary Economics)
- NEP-EXP-2012-10-20 (Experimental Economics)
- NEP-SOC-2012-10-20 (Social Norms & Social Capital)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Fernando Aguiar & Pablo Branas-Garza & Maria Paz Espinosa & Luis M. Miller, 2007.
"Personal Identity in the Dictator Game,"
Jena Economic Research Papers
2007-007, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.
- Fernando Aguiar & Pablo Branas-Garza & Maria Paz Espinosa & Luis Miller, 2010. "Personal identity: a theoretical and experimental analysis," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(3), pages 261-275.
- Espinosa Alejos, María Paz & Miller Moya, Luis Miguel & Brañas Garza, Pablo & Aguiar, Fernando, 2008. "Personal identity. A theoretical and experimental analysis," DFAEII Working Papers 2009-.04, University of the Basque Country - Department of Foundations of Economic Analysis II.
- Forsythe Robert & Horowitz Joel L. & Savin N. E. & Sefton Martin, 1994. "Fairness in Simple Bargaining Experiments," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 347-369, May.
- Arellano, Manuel & Bond, Stephen, 1991.
"Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations,"
Review of Economic Studies,
Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(2), pages 277-97, April.
- Tom Doan, . "RATS program to replicate Arellano-Bond 1991 dynamic panel," Statistical Software Components RTZ00169, Boston College Department of Economics.
- Windmeijer, Frank, 2005. "A finite sample correction for the variance of linear efficient two-step GMM estimators," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 126(1), pages 25-51, May.
- John A. List, 2007. "On the Interpretation of Giving in Dictator Games," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 482-493.
- Pierpaolo Battigalli & Martin Dufwenberg, 2007. "Guilt in Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 170-176, May.
Blog mentionsAs found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
- What's Right?
by firstname.lastname@example.org (Mungowitz) in Kids Prefer Cheese on 2013-08-18 08:00:00
- Moral licensing & cherry-picking
by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2012-10-26 13:32:44
- Liu, Elaine M. & Meng, Juanjuan & Wang, Joseph Tao-yi, 2013.
"Confucianism and Preferences: Evidence from Lab Experiments in Taiwan and China,"
IZA Discussion Papers
7684, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Elaine M. Liu & Juanjuan Meng & Joseph Tao-yi Wang, 2013. "Confucianism and Preferences: Evidence from Lab Experiments in Taiwan and China," NBER Working Papers 19615, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Elaine Liu & Juanjuan Meng & Joseph Wang, 2013. "Confucianism and Preferences: Evidence from Lab Experiments in Taiwan and China," Working Papers 2013-199-49, Department of Economics, University of Houston.
- Sophie Clot & Fano Andriamahefazafy & Gilles Grolleau & Lisette Ibanez & Philippe Méral, 2014. "Payments for Ecosystem Services: Can we kill two birds with one stone? Insights from a Natural Field Experiment in Madagascar," Working Papers 14-01, LAMETA, Universtiy of Montpellier, revised Jan 2014.
- Sophie Clot & Gilles Grolleau & Lisette Ibanez, 2013. "Self-Licensing and Financial Rewards: Is Morality For Sale?," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 33(3), pages 2298-2306.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Alcira Macías Redondo).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.