Temptation and (moral) licensing

Pandora's temptation. Photo by by ketrin1407 at https://www.flickr.com/photos/65986072@N00/4929579350
In several studies we studied moral licensing; and how people deal with temptations. All in all, our meta-analysis and replication suggests a modest effect, but also that it might be less reliable/robust than often thought. Our final paper also suggests an additional possible explanation for the effect.

Blanken, I., Van de Ven, N., & Zeelenberg, M. (2015). A meta-analytic review of moral licensing. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 41(4), 540-558. doi: 10.1177/0146167215572134
[we conducted a meta-analysis on all the studies on moral licensing we could get our hands on. the analysis suggests a small moral licensing effect, the idea that after doing a good deed people more easily allow themselves to do something immoral. however, note that we actually think the effect we document is still an overestimation as the power of licensing studies was extremely low]

Blanken, I., Van de Ven, N., & Zeelenberg, M. (2014). Three attempts to replicate the moral licensing effect.
Social Psychology, 45(3), 232-238. doi: 10.1027/1864-9335/a000189
[we attempted to replicate a classic finding in the moral licensing domain, but did not find the effect in multiple large studies.]

Van de Ven, N., Blanken, I. & Zeelenberg, M. (2018). Temptation based reasoning: When tempted, everything becomes a (better) reason to indulge.
Journal of Marketing Behavior, 3(3), 185-209. doi: 10.1561/107.00000047
[we propose that people interpret reasons for indulgence in a different light depending on how tempting behavior is: people see a prior good deed as a better reason to give into the temptation when the indulgence is more tempting. In moral licensing the idea is often that because people did something good, they become more likely to do something bad afterwards. we think the opposite is likely to occur; people want to do something bad, and use their past good behavior as an excuse to do so. this process of temptation-based reasoning sheds new light on existing theories on how people deal with temptations, notably those on self-licensing, comfort buying, and comfort eating]


Temptation-Based Reasoning: When Tempted, Everything Becomes a (Better) Reason to Indulge

Niels van de Ven, Irene Blanken, Marcel Zeelenberg

Journal of Marketing Behavior, vol. 3, 2018, pp. 185-209

A Meta-Analytic Review of Moral Licensing

Irene Blanken, Niels van de Ven, Marcel Zeelenberg

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, vol. 41(4), 2015, pp. 540-558

Three Attempts to Replicate the Moral Licensing Effect

Irene Blanken, Niels van de Ven, Marcel Zeelenberg, Marijn Meijers

Social Psychology, vol. 45(3), 2014, pp. 232-238


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