Three Attempts to Replicate the Moral Licensing Effect

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The present work includes three attempts to replicate the moral licensing effect by Sachdeva, Iliev, and Medin (2009). The original authors found that writing about positive traits led to lower donations to charity and decreased cooperative behavior. The first two replication attempts (student samples, 95% power based on the initial findings, NStudy1 = 105, NStudy2 = 150), did not confirm the original results. The third replication attempt (MTurk sample, 95% power based on a meta-analysis on self-licensing, N = 940) also did not confirm the moral licensing effect. We conclude that (1) there is as of yet no strong support for the moral self-regulation framework proposed in Sachdeva et al. (2009) (2) the manipulation used is unlikely to induce moral licensing, and (3) studies on moral licensing should use a neutral control condition.

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