Moral credentials and the 2020 democratic presidential primary: No evidence that endorsing female candidates licenses people to favor men

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

Authors: Dr. Laura Giurge

Laura M. Giurge, Eva Hsin-Lian Lin, Daniel A. Effron

Endorsing Obama in 2008 licensed some Americans to favor Whites over Blacks––an example of moral self-licensing (Effron, Cameron, & Monin, 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 = 2143; an anti-Trump Republican or independent candidate in Study 2, N = 2228). 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.

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