"Beware the Goodists," writes Jonathan Rosenblum in the Jerusalem Post:
Psychologists Nina Mazar and Chen-Bo Zhong of the Toronto University recently reported a startling discovery in the journal Psychological Science: Those who purchased a "morally virtuous" product, like organic baby food, were less likely to be charitable and more likely to lie and steal than those who purchased conventional products.
The Guardian summarized the findings: "[T]hose . . . who bought green products appeared less willing to share with others a set amount of money than those who bought conventional products. When the green consumers were given the chance to boost their money by cheating on a computer game and then given the opportunity to lie about it – in other words, steal – they did, while the conventional consumers did not."
Those findings confirmed previous observations of patterns of "moral balancing," whereby people who have proven their credentials as moral people in one area allow themselves to stray in other areas. Apparently, relatively minor acts that confer some sort of "moral halo," have the effect of licensing subsequent asocial and unethical behavior.