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Do Good Deeds Make Bad People?

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  • Sophie Clot
  • Gilles Grolleau
  • Lisette Ibanez

Abstract

A limited but growing literature contends that licensing can operate by committing to a virtuous act in a preceding choice, which reduces negative self-attributions associated with donating less or behaving less virtuously in the succeeding decision. Psychological research and behavioral economics strongly suggest that pre-existing intrinsic motivations of individuals play a major role in determining their subsequent choices when faced with a voluntary or mandatory virtuous ‘act’. In this paper, we report the results of a pilot experimental study examining licensing effect in the environmental realm, using a 2 (mandatory or voluntary nature of the virtuous act) X 2 (intrinsically or non-intrinsically motivated individuals) between subjects design. We found that intrinsically motivated and non-intrinsically motivated subjects reacted adversely to the two policy scenarios. The licensing effect occurs when combining intrinsically (resp., non-intrinsically) motivated individuals and mandatory (resp. voluntary) conditions.

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File URL: http://www.lameta.univ-montp1.fr/Documents/DR2011-21.pdf
File Function: First version, 2011
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by LAMETA, Universtiy of Montpellier in its series Working Papers with number 11-21.

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Length: 12 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2011
Date of revision: Nov 2011
Handle: RePEc:lam:wpaper:11-21

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  1. Frey, Bruno S & Jegen, Reto, 2001. " Motivation Crowding Theory," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(5), pages 589-611, December.
  2. Vollan, Bjørn, 2008. "Socio-ecological explanations for crowding-out effects from economic field experiments in southern Africa," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(4), pages 560-573, November.
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Cited by:
  1. Tiefenbeck, Verena & Staake, Thorsten & Roth, Kurt & Sachs, Olga, 2013. "For better or for worse? Empirical evidence of moral licensing in a behavioral energy conservation campaign," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 160-171.

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