- Wed, July 18 2012
- Filed under: Fun stuff
A recent study from University of Toronto researchers Nina Mazar and Chen-Bo Zhong suggests green products can license us to act immorally.
Through a series of experiments, Mazar and Zhong drew the following distinction between two kinds of exposure to green: When it’s a matter of pure priming (i.e., we are reminded of eco products through words or images), our norms of social responsibility are activated and we become more likely to act ethically afterwards. But if we take the next step and actually purchase the green product (thereby aligning our actions with our moral self-image), we give ourselves the go-ahead to then slack off a little and engage in subsequent dishonest behavior.
Apparently, when you buy green, you figure you’ve done your good deed for the day and can slag off on the moral front. According to the researchers, participants in the above-mentioned experiment, for example, were more likely to cheat and steal cash after making green purchases. I guess if you think you’ve done good, you feel a license to do bad?
I have been known to eat a less than healthy treat after a long run. As if my good behavior (exercising) makes up for my bad (pain au chocolat). And I probably have taken out the recycling, then felt less guilty about driving to work instead of taking the metro.
As Ariely points out: “All this to say that we need to think carefully about the unintended consequences of all the decisions we make. While we may consider the consequences of questionable decisions (speeding or parking illegally for example), we rarely consider the effects of “good” ones.”