You've probably heard the Toyota Prius referred to as the "Pious." The joke is that Prius owners feel driving a hybrid means they are holier than thou. But it's just a joke made by people who wish they could get 50 miles per gallon around town, right? If you ask Canadian psychologists Nina Mazar and Chen-Bo Zhong, they'll say that environmentally conscious types are liars, cheats, thieves and just plain mean, and they're not even talking about hybrid-driving politicians.
The Detroit Bureau reports that a Mazar and Zhong study published in Psychological Science focused on the social behaviors of green consumers, and the results were surprising. The psychologists set up tests to compare the behavior of environmentally conscious types against consumers who are less likely to consider a product's environmental impact during the purchase process.
Their results show that people who buy green products may amass a stock pile of moral capital that ultimately encourages deviant behavior like lying and stealing. Think of it this way: You sacrificed what your V8-loving, tire-shredding heart really wanted and bought a hybrid for the greater good. You're owed, and you're such a good person that you don't have to play by the same moral rules as everyone else.
You can review the experiments conducted in the first source link below. The psychologists conclude that "acting upon one's values establishes moral credentials that can subsequently license deviating behavior." We think that means green buyers feel holier than thou.
[Source: Psychological Science via The Detroit Bureau]