Hey guys! It’s Sunday again.

I flew into Philly yesterday for Penn’s alumni/graduation weekend! I can’t believe it has been a whole year since I graduated. It is nice to be back to catch up with friends and to randomly bump into people around the city.

Today I want to talk about the self-licensing effect. Self-licensing is when you justify a subsequent bad behavior by doing something positive first. Experiments have shown that if a person does a positive act (e.g. donating) first, then they feel less bad about splurging on a luxury item (e.g. a handbag, watch) (1). They also showed that you don’t actually have to physically do the act, it could simply be a hypothetical situation where you are asked, for example, “if you were to donate, which charity would you want to help?” This would already warrant a person to justify making an unnecessary luxury purchase afterwards, when given a choice between a luxury and a necessary item.

Examples of self-licensing effect can be easily spotted. For example, if you just spent the day walking around Philly and getting in those steps on your Fit-Bit, you feel more justified to eat a huge dinner and Franklin Fountain ice-cream afterwards. yep, which was what just happened to me. OR, if you recycled a piece of paper, you’re more convinced that it’s okay to use more paper afterwards. OR, if you take vitamin supplements, you’re more likely to stick to an unhealthier diet.

Can you think of ways you’re self-licensing with a positive act so you can do a negative/less desirable act after?





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