This paper studies the impact of financially rewarding good deeds on self-licensing. We run a between-subjects experiment comprised of an adapted dictator game preceded by paid and unpaid pro-environmental tasks. We find that prefacing the dictator game with an unpaid good deed seems to establish a ‘moral rectitude’ which licenses subsequent selfish behaviour, whereas a paid good deed dampens this effect. Interestingly, the nature of the initial task has more of an effect on the binary option (give vs. not give) than on the amount donated.
Self-licensing and financial rewards: is morality for sale?
13 March 2014