Moral Licensing: The Mental Glitch

An article written by: Lee Sonogan

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Moral psychology is the study of moral development, ethics and the philosophy of the mind. It intends to determine what is good and what is evil. What is considered normal is subjective and objective in a society. And will always be debated. While a normal human is at odds of creating a balance between good and evil, sub-consciously there are phenomena out there that many people do not understand or consider in their actions or thoughts.

As the title of this article suggests, one of them is called Moral Licensing. Moral Licensing can also be called self-licensing, moral self-licensing, licensing effect, or the moral credential effect. The phenomenon causes increased confidence in one’s self-image or self in which makes the individual worry less about the consequences of behaviour. Making them to more likely make less moral choices and act immorally. In simple terms, when you do something good, you subconsciously get the right to do something bad.

This phenomenon can have negative social consequences since it has a permissive effect on behaviours. Moral Licensing can influence racial prejudice, discrimination, selfishness, excessive energy consumption and probably much more examples. Some as small as eating healthy and then ordering something very unhealthy after to eat can be considered as self-licensing. Studies and experiments on such psychological ideas have shown that it does not always make humans look good.

Mind Field is probably the best show on YouTube’s streaming services. Watching the episode below of this paragraph has inspired me to write this article. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This quote by Issac Newton can explain the seriousness of Moral Licensing. Overcoming the mental glitch that everyone is capable of doing requires understanding and thinking before you act.  As the brain is always looking for an excuse to balance self-image, change your perspective by seeing the moral and ethical ideas in your choices and actions.

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