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

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Abstract

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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