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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Sophie Clot & Gilles Grolleau & Lisette Ibanez, 2011. "Do Good Deeds Make Bad People?," Working Papers 11-21, LAMETA, Universtiy of Montpellier, revised Nov 2011.
  • Handle: RePEc:lam:wpaper:11-21
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    File URL: http://www.lameta.univ-montp1.fr/Documents/DR2011-21.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Clot, Sophie & Andriamahefazafy, Fano & Grolleau, Gilles & Ibanez, Lisette & Méral, Philippe, 2015. "Compensation and Rewards for Environmental Services (CRES) and efficient design of contracts in developing countries. Behavioral insights from a natural field experiment," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, pages 85-96.
    2. Laure Kuhfuss & Raphaële Préget & Sophie Thoyer & Frans P. de Vries & Nick Hanley, 2017. "Nudging Participation and Spatial Agglomeration in Payment for Environmental Service Schemes," Discussion Papers in Environment and Development Economics 2017-11, University of St. Andrews, School of Geography and Sustainable Development.
    3. Gallier, Carlo & Reif, Christiane & Römer, Daniel, 2015. "Consistent or balanced? On the dynamics of voluntary contributions," ZEW Discussion Papers 14-060 [rev.], ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    4. Hilton, Denis & Charalambides, Laetitia & Demarque, Christophe & Waroquier, Laurent & Raux, Charles, 2014. "A tax can nudge: The impact of an environmentally motivated bonus/malus fiscal system on transport preferences," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, pages 17-27.
    5. 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.
    6. Gallier, Carlo & Reif, Christiane & Römer, Daniel, 2014. "Consistent or balanced? On the dynamics of voluntary contributions," ZEW Discussion Papers 14-060, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • Q50 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - General
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D04 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Policy: Formulation; Implementation; Evaluation
    • K32 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Energy, Environmental, Health, and Safety Law

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