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A Little Good is Good Enough: Ethical Consumption, Cheap Excuses, and Moral Self-Licensing

Jannis Engel () and Nora Szech ()
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Jannis Engel: Karlsruhe Institution of Technology
Nora Szech: Karlsruher Institut für Technologie

No 2017-025, Working Papers from Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group

Abstract: We explore the role of cheap excuses in product choice. If a product improves upon one ethically relevant dimension, agents may care less about other, completely independent ethical facets of the product. This ‘static moral self-licensing’ would extend the logic of the well studied moral self-licensing over time. Our data document that static moral self-licensing exists. Furthermore, effects spill over to later, unrelated but ethically relevant contexts. Thus, static moral self-licensing and moral self-licensing over time amplify each other. Outsiders, though incentivized for correct estimates, are completely oblivious to effects of moral self-licensing, both, static and over time.

Keywords: moral self-licensing; moral spillovers; cheap excuses; outsider beliefs; moral personality; homo moralis; preference module (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D03 D84 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017-04
Note: MIP
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