Motivation to Maintain a Nonprejudiced Identity: The Moderating Role of Normative Context and Justification for Prejudice on Moral Licensing

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In the context of nationals’ attitudes toward immigrants, three studies investigated the moderating role of normative context and justification for prejudice on licensing effects. Justification for prejudice was either assessed (Studies 1 and 2) or experimentally induced (Study 3). The normative context (egalitarian vs. discriminatory) and the possibility to obtain (or not) credentials as a nonprejudiced person were manipulated in all studies. A licensing effect (i.e., greater prejudice in the credentials as compared to the no-credentials conditions) was observed only in the egalitarian norm condition when justification for prejudice was high. Thus, credentials appear to provide a way for establishing a normative self-image as nonprejudiced when justification for prejudice is high, which reduces conformity to an egalitarian norm.

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