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Moral credentials and the 2020 Democratic Presidential Primary: no evidence that endorsing female candidates licenses people to favor men


Journal of Experimental Social Psychology


Organisational Behaviour

Authors / Editors

Giurge L M;Lin H-L E;Effron D A


Publication Year



Endorsing Obama in 2008 licensed some Americans to favor Whites over Blacks––an example of moral self-licensing (Effron et al., 2009). Could endorsing a female presidential candidate in 2020-21 similarly license Americans to favor men at the expense of women? Two high-powered, pre-registered experiments found no evidence for this possibility. We manipulated whether Democrat participants had an opportunity to endorse a female Democratic candidate if she ran against a male candidate (i.e., Trump in Study 1, N = 2,143; an anti-Trump Republican or independent candidate in Study 2, N = 2,228). Then, participants read about a stereotypically masculine job and indicated whether they thought a man should fill it. Contrary to predictions, we found that endorsing a female Democrat did not increase participants’ tendency to favor men over women for the job. We discuss implications for the robustness and generalizability of moral self-licensing.


Moral credentials; Moral licensing; Gender bias; Sexism; Voting

Available on ECCH


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