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A little good is good enough: Ethical consumption, cheap excuses, and moral self-licensing

Jannis Engel and Nora Szech

No SP II 2017-301, Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change from WZB Berlin Social Science Center

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 selflicensing, 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
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