Three attempts to replicate the moral licensing effect

Irene Blanken*, Niels van de Ven, Marcel Zeelenberg, Marijn H C Meijers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The present work includes three attempts to replicate the moral licensing effect by Sachdeva, Iliev, and Medin (2009). The original authors found that writing about positive traits led to lower donations to charity and decreased cooperative behavior. The first two replication attempts (student samples, 95% power based on the initial findings, NStudy1 = 105, N Study2 = 150), did not confirm the original results. The third replication attempt (MTurk sample, 95% power based on a meta-analysis on self-licensing, N = 940) also did not confirm the moral licensing effect. We conclude that (1) there is as of yet no strong support for the moral self-regulation framework proposed in Sachdeva et al. (2009) (2) the manipulation used is unlikely to induce moral licensing, and (3) studies on moral licensing should use a neutral control condition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)232-238
Number of pages7
JournalSocial Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Moral cleansing
  • Moral licensing
  • Replication
  • Self-regulation


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