Researchers have found that, after doing something ethically sound, people are more - not less - likely to do something immoral, or even illegal
Well, consider this: a person who makes the decent, green choice is much more likely to behave badly afterwards, according to researchers at the University of Toronto. Nina Mazar and Chen-Bo Zhong split 156 students between two online shops: one a conventional store, the other mainly selling green alternatives. Within both groups, some could actually buy things while others were allowed only to browse.
All the students were then handed cash to share with an anonymous person however they chose. The students who had looked around the eco-shop but not bought anything gave most generously; mere exposure to the goods prompted them to behave better. However, those who had actually made green purchases were far stingier than even the conventional shoppers.
Next, all the guinea pigs sat a simple computer test to identify repeatedly which side of the screen was showing more dots, with the twist that picking the right-hand side always earned them more money even if it was incorrect. Finally, the students were told the amount they'd won, and invited to take that exact amount out of an envelope full of money.
What happened? The conventional shoppers played it reasonably straight, whereas the green consumers cheated far more and even stole extra cash, pocketing nearly a third more money than they were entitled to. Having done their good deed, the greens apparently felt they'd proved their moral worth allowing them to behave immorally and illegally. Psychologists call this "the licensing effect". Another recent study from Stanford University showed that white Americans who supported Obama were much more willing than others to express racist opinions.