Meijers, M. H. C., Verlegh, P. W. J., Noordewier, M. K., & Smit, E. G. (2015). The dark side of donating: How donating may license environmentally unfriendly behavior. Social Influence, 10(4), 250-263. doi:10.1080/15534510.2015.1092468

Abstract: Why people donate to charity or how people may be persuaded to donate to charity is a widely studied topic. What happens after people donated to charity, however, is largely understudied. On the one hand, people may be motivated to behave morally in subsequent decisions because of consistency concerns. On the other hand, people may feel licensed to behave less morally in subsequent decisions. In a quasi-experimental field study, we show that donating to charity may have a dark side to it, as it negatively affects subsequent, seemingly unrelated moral behavior. Specifically, our study shows the licensing effect in a real-world setting, as we find that people who donated to charity subsequently show lower intentions to be environmentally friendly.

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