Dishonest Deed, Clear Conscience: Self-Preservation Through Moral Disengagement And Motivated Forgetting

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Executive Summary

People routinely engage in dishonest acts without feeling guilty about their behavior. Across four studies, people justified their dishonest deeds through moral disengagement and exhibited motivated forgetting of information that might otherwise limit their dishonesty. Using hypothetical scenarios and real tasks involving the opportunity to cheat, they find that dishonest behavior increased moral disengagement and motivated forgetting of moral rules. While dishonest behavior motivated moral leniency and led to strategic forgetting of moral rules, honest behavior motivated moral stringency and diligent recollection of moral rules.

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