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The present study examines the role of cost to self in moral licensing. Previous research shows that people who recall past moral behavior become morally licensed. That is, they are less likely to engage in future high-cost helping behaviors because they feel morally affirmed (Conway & Peetz, 2012). However, these findings are limited to contexts in which participants are asked their likelihood to engage in helping behaviors that are rather costly to the self (e.g., buying someone lunch). Thus far, research has not studied the effect of moral licensing on helping that is low in cost to the self (e.g., giving someone a few cents). Consistent with past research, it is predicted that moral licensing will lead to less helping in high-cost situations. Additionally, we are interested in whether the recall task also reduces helping in low-cost situations, or when the cost-to-self is low.

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Honors Thesis

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Erin O'Mara

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Effects of Moral Licensing on High-Cost and Low-Cost Helping Behaviors