Moral licensing

Moral licensing refers to behavioural patterns identified by psychology experiments where individuals who complete a ‘good act’ – say buying a green product, then feel licensed to conduct a ‘bad act’ - say buying non-green products. Such behavior could pose a significant problem for policy-makers in business or government seeking to change consumption behavior. However moral licensing also challenges other findings in both psychology and economics which suggests that individuals act in a consistent fashion. Theoretical research we have conducted suggests it may be possible to reconcile these two approaches and we will conduct a number of empirical projects to test the theoretical predictions.