MK forum

Discuss anything MK here
It is currently Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:00 am

All times are UTC - 5 hours




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 18 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next
Author Message
PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2014 11:26 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri May 20, 2011 3:35 pm
Posts: 597
I ran across this last year, and have been pondering it ever since. Anyone "serving, " "sacrificing" is prone to use the moral licensing effect to justify their errors in judgement. If you have time, read this . . .let me know what you think . . .

Moral Licensing: How Being Good Can Make You Bad
Posted on August 18, 2013 by Agota Bialobzeskyte | CATEGORIES: self improvement

We are quick to beat ourselves up for our apparent lack of willpower. However, the reason why we struggle so much with self-control is often not some innate weakness of our characters, but our lack of understanding of how our minds work. There are many willpower traps that we can avoid simply by being aware of certain mental glitches that we all share. One of such glitches is moral licensing, a fascinating phenomenon, understanding of which can make overcoming various willpower challenges much easier.

What is moral licensing?

Moral licensing is a a particularly interesting mental glitch: apparently, doing something that helps to strengthen our positive self-image also makes us less worried about the consequences of immoral behaviour, and therefore more likely to make immoral choices. For example, studies have shown that people who have just expressed strong disagreement with sexist statements are more likely to then hire a man for a job in a male-dominated industry, because they feel secure about their “non-sexist” self-image and therefore pay less attention to the possible biases they might have (the exact same thing happens with people who express disagreement with racist statements and then are more likely to unconsciously discriminate against racial minorities). It seems that being “good” is where the slippery slope towards being “bad” starts.

Why is moral licensing a willpower threat?

You might be wondering what on Earth does moral licensing have to do with willpower. Well, a lot, because this sneaky mental glitch often derails your progress towards achieving your goals without you even realizing what hit you, which gives you the impression that you lack willpower. How many times have you said to yourself “I will start eating healthy from Monday..”.. And then ate an extra large McDonald’s meal all by yourself which you flushed down with a litre or two of Coke (I’m totally making this up, people, never happened to me!), since you thought that it’s okay to go crazy considering that you will start eating healthy from Monday? We all know that “Monday” never comes, though. That’s just one of the many ways in which moral licensing can ruin our efforts to change despite our best intentions. Let’s take a closer look at what it is and what to do about it.

How moral licensing derails our progress

Moral licensing can be hard to understand sometimes. In it’s essence, it’s about using something “good” to justify “something “bad”, often without even realizing it. However, that doesn’t say much, does it? Here are some of the most common ways moral licensing manifests in our daily lives..

“Good” vs. “Bad” : how being “good” gives you a permission to be “bad”

How it works: Any act and any thought that you consider to be “good” can license a subsequent “bad” behaviour because we feel that we deserve a reward for being so righteous. For example, one study have found that merely considering donating to a charity increased participants’ desire to go on a shopping spree. The problem here lies not in rewarding yourself, but in the fact that our rewards often tend to be the things that stifle our progress towards our goals, or even set us back (say, if you reward exercising with delicious meals, it’s likely that you will gain weight as a result).

Real life examples: Rewarding yourself with junk food, alcohol, expensive items, and so on when those rewards sabotage your efforts to achieve your goals (for example, if you have no intention of eating healthy or losing weight, then it doesn’t matter how much junk you eat, but if you want to shed some pounds, then rewarding yourself with junk food isn’t the best idea..).

What to do about it: Stop seeing every willpower challenge as a test of your character. Sure, we sometimes encounter genuine moral dilemmas, but these are few and far in between. Most of our willpower struggles have nothing to do with vice and virtue, since eating a cheeseburger or surfing the Internet is not exactly a moral downfall. It’s best to stop putting “good” and “bad” labels on every single thing that you do, and start focusing on whether your actions will get you closer to achieving your goals or not, because this way it’s easier to avoid the trap of giving yourself rewards that sabotage your efforts.

Progress : how making progress gives you a permission to take it easy

How it works: Making progress towards our goals often makes us less motivated to work towards achieving them: for example, studies have found that students who feel good about the amount of time they have spent studying are more likely to drop the books and go out with their friends. Our brains are hard-wired to look for shortcuts (it’s a way of preserving energy), and therefore when you rejoice in the fact that you have made a significant progress towards your goals, your brain happily takes it as a sign that work is done, time to chill out. It then tunes up the “volume” of cravings it has been suppressing all this time in order for you to stay on track. This makes it very hard not to go off the rails.

Real life examples: Celebrating losing weight by gorging on junk food, rewarding yourself for the progress you have made in your business by reducing work hours, and so on..

What to do about it: Stop focusing on the progress you’ve made towards your goal and start focusing on your commitment to achieving it. When you consciously choose to see your progress as a proof of your commitment (“Wow, I’ve done so much, this must be really important to me!”), you prevent your brain from saying “Okay, work is done, time to party!”, which makes it much easier to stay motivated until the very end. Keep in mind that ultimately, the results are all that matters, therefore it’s better to not get enamoured with your progress before you achieve your goals.

Halo effect: how “good” things makes us lose sight of the big picture

How it works: In this context, halo effect is a phenomenon when in our minds one thing casts a “halo” on another thing, which leads us to believe that the latter has the qualities of the former. For example, studies have shown that people who order diet soda in McDonald’s are likely to consume more calories overall than those who order regular soda. That’s because in their mind, the low calorie nature of diet soda casts a low calorie “halo” on the rest of their meal, which is why they give themselves a permission to order a Big Mac instead of salad. The halo that our “good” actions cast makes us completely delusional about the real impact of our choices. Halo effect doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, but this is how our minds work, and we often fall into this trap without even noticing it.

Real life examples: spending more money while shopping with coupons than you would have spent shopping without coupons (savings halo), consuming more calories when you have ordered salads with your lunch than you would have consumed if you haven’t ordered salads with your lunch (low calorie halo), and so on..

What to do about it: Pick the most concrete measure possible and use it to decide whether an action is compatible with your goals or not. For example, if you are trying to lose weight, you can pay attention to calories, which will allow you not to fall into the diet Coke trap when you visit McDonald’s (whether it’s smart to go to places like McDonald’s when you are trying to lose weight is an entirely different question..).We don’t have any reliable mental accountant in our heads, therefore if you want to avoid errors caused by halo effect it’s best to make decisions based on data, not on your intuition.

“I’ll start on Monday!” – how believing we will behave “well” tomorrow makes us behave “bad” today

How it works: We humans have a persistent tendency to expect that we will make different decisions in the future. How many times have you told yourself that you are going to start or stop doing something from Monday? We feel justified in doing something “bad” today because we think that our “good” actions tomorrow will more than make up for it.. However, as you probably already know from your own experience, that magical “tomorrow”, “Monday”, or “next week” when everything is supposed to change never comes. This delusional optimism is the reason why years can fly by without us making any significant progress towards our goals.

Real life examples: Procrastinating on starting a diet, going to the gym, saving money, and so on, because you believe that you will do that someday in the future, and therefore putting it off today doesn’t make much difference.

What to do about it: A good strategy to deal with this is to focus on reducing the variability in the behaviour that you want to change rather than eliminating the behaviour itself: for example, studies have found that people who focus on smoking the same number of cigarettes every day are more successful in ultimately reducing their smoking than those who focus on quitting smoking altogether. You can apply this in your life: say, if you want to stop wasting time on the Facebook, you can try to focus on spending no more than one hour a day on social media, as opposed to trying to quit cold-turkey. This will prevent you from saying “I will quit Facebook on Monday” to yourself while spending 4 hours a day on it, waiting for that magical Monday that never comes. Another useful trick is substitute the question “Do I want to do this today?” (say, skip the gym) with a question “Do I want the consequences of doing this everyday?” (being out of shape), since that changes your perspective, and helps you stay focused on your long term goals.

You can see that the main mistake that leads to moral licensing is evaluating things in terms of good and bad rather than asking whether they help us to get closer to our goals or set us back. We like to think that we are motivated by our sense of ethics to a large extent, but we aren’t, since most of us simply want to feel good enough about ourselves rather than become a saint, and once that threshold is met we don’t care much about ethics. What really motivates us is getting what we want and avoiding what we don’t want. That’s why we are much more likely to say no to that pizza when we think about it as a threat to our waistline, not as a moral dilemma. Stop thinking in terms of good and bad, start thinking in terms of getting closer or getting further from achieving your goals, and it will be much easier to stay on track.

Yes, it sounds absolutely ridiculous, but you do it too!

I know,I know.. When you read about moral licensing, it seems so absurd, that your first reaction is “I don’t do that!”. However, the reality is that although pretty much everyone believes that they aren’t affected by mental glitches like this, all of us are vulnerable to them, and fall into these traps much more often than we think. It’s silly and naive to assume that you are somehow exempt from having the same cognitive limitations that all other humans are subject to (I’m sorry if it sounds harsh, but I call it as I see it..). That’s why I invite you to take a moment to think about how moral licensing affects your daily decisions: what is the most common trap you fall into and what can you do to avoid it? Let me know in the comments!


Read more at http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/moral- ... QHwJXsa.99


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2014 10:42 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Sat Sep 11, 2010 12:40 pm
Posts: 759
Very interesting at first scan, will need to read further and consider more.

But in the (unspoken) words of NTM, "The end justifies any means."


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2014 11:03 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jun 23, 2010 11:27 pm
Posts: 4954
That article makes a lot of sense, Allbetter.

Thanks!


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
PostPosted: Tue Feb 18, 2014 8:16 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri May 20, 2011 3:35 pm
Posts: 597
I keep looking more into the moral licensing thing--quite fascinating. Amazing how few spiritual sources say anything about it. This was one that I found:

Is moral licensing hurting your marriage?
JANUARY 31, 2010
in SHARED WALK
Interesting story here about human nature and something called “moral licensing”. In short, the idea is that doing things seen as good results in folks being more likely to do things that are “bad”. It’s sort of like a bank account – the more “good credit” you have amassed, the less you worry about spending some of that in the form of being rude, dishonest, or apathetic.

I wonder if this partly explains the people who are seen as moral, just, friendly and all around great people at work, but are none of those things at home. Or those folks who are known as fantastic missionaries overseas, but their families just want them to go back overseas?

As much of this is not conscious, you will need to examine yourself carefully to see if you are guilty. Also, remember that the Bible says we must start by being good and loving to those closest to us – only then are we qualified to minster to others.

- See more at: http://www.the-generous-husband.com/201 ... f7uyd.dpuf


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
PostPosted: Tue Feb 18, 2014 8:37 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Sun Oct 02, 2011 1:14 am
Posts: 5162
I'm trying to get my head round this theory. Surely like most things in life it is a sliding scale. At one end are people who are totally bad and at the other are those who totally good. Most people are somewhere in the middle, which stands to reason.
I suspect most of us have some degree of a darker side, but we do manage to cover it when we are in public and it is only those closest to us that know our true flaws.
Christians are like any other group. I.e. health professionals, who are put on this earth to bring health and happiness to those that they treat professionally, but no doubt we both know some who are brilliant at their job but are disasters domestically. But then there are those who are fakes and have ulterior motives for what they do and this is what this excellent site is really about, those that ended up on the mission field, saying the right religious mantras, pulling the wool over the eyes of those who would never suspect them and abusing children.
My guess for these it is not so much a balancing act, where they build up so much good credit that they need to do bad to get them to a more realistic level, but that they had evil intentions all along and found that by faking their piousness they could go a lot further without being suspected or caught.

I'm just musing here and probably have contributed no great wisdom :?


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
PostPosted: Tue Feb 18, 2014 9:56 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri May 20, 2011 3:35 pm
Posts: 597
My brain is fried, so muse away, Bemused! I have come to some realizations though, that when there are extremes, the extremes often hide other extremes. This last month I had a new work situation in which the parents seemed extraordinarily devoted to their child, and very suspicious of the nurses. On Saturday the dad was arrested for a prostitute related offense. I decided not to go back there to work--sometimes knowing too much is uncomfortable. I don't want to be anywhere near that marriage right now!

On Kennell's parents blog, they frequently mentioned, "our son Scott", in the previous years before this arrest. The moral licensing effect could be an extended one, as in "our family has sacrificed so much".
The old AA adages about not letting yourself get too hungry, thirsty, sleep-deprived, etc never seem to make it to missionary manuals. Oh no, too good and saintly for that type of advice. You have to give your ALL, ALL the TIME!!!

I'm not too saintly to have a nightcap and go to bed. Good luck to however tries to decipher this stuff!


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 8:27 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Sun Oct 02, 2011 1:14 am
Posts: 5162
I'm still musing on this one.

I think for me it comes down to what a neighour said to me after we had our major earthquake, "there are two types of people in this world, those that give and those that take". And I think he is right, but where it gets confusing is those that take, but have realised that they need to give something in order to take whatever it is they want. Therefore it comes down to each individual finding out what it is that motivates them to do anything in life. Is it because they genuinely have an interest in their fellow human and the advancement of society, or they see fellow humans as a means of advancing their own wants and if that means depleting the moral license bank to achieve this, then so be it?
Few of us reach the genuine "saint" status of living our lives in the total service of others, we do seem to have an inbuilt programme of looking after ourselves first. I think it comes down to the degree we look after ourselves first, if it is to the total exclusivity of anyone elses needs or is there components of humanitarianism interspersed with self preservation?

Maybe I'll stop musing at this point, any of that nightcap left?


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
PostPosted: Fri Feb 21, 2014 5:36 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri May 20, 2011 3:35 pm
Posts: 597
Not sure if there is a pure selfless deed out there. I took a friend to her doctor today--she was having high anxiety--I was actually feeling quite well seeing her distress. Guess it made me feel less bad about my stuff. When I came home, that "I did my good deed for the day" attitude made it quite easy for me to eat candy hearts and spend the rest of the evening loafing . . .


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
PostPosted: Fri Feb 21, 2014 5:38 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri May 20, 2011 3:35 pm
Posts: 597
Here's yet another term that resonates . . .MORAL INJURY . . .this article explains it well:

http://www.npr.org/2012/11/21/165663154 ... nds-of-war


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 12:43 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Sun Oct 02, 2011 1:14 am
Posts: 5162
This story backs your theory of the very good being capable of evil.

http://au.news.yahoo.com/a/21733939/fal ... -cambodia/

I suspect the debate will always go on as to whether the doers of evil were evil before they embarked on their road of good works and that it was an elaborate cover. Or whether something led them down the slippery slope from sainthood to doer of evil.
Quite possibly every case is different, because each person is governed by different motives and experiences, therefore it is a combination of the two.

But I'm just musing again.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 18 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next

All times are UTC - 5 hours


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group