Can Charitable Acts Lead to Bad Behavior?

Christmas season is fast approaching and more opportunities to do charitable work await us. It’s the perfect season to share our blessings to others.

An interesting study has revealed that doing charitable acts can also make a person behave in a less environment-friendly behavior.


Speaking to LIVE SCIENCE, psychologist Marijn Meijers of the University of Amsterdam said:  “After you do something moral or laudable, you’re more likely to behave a little less laudable.”

Meijers added that the negative impact is so subtle that it shouldn’t discourage people from participating in charitable works.

According to researchers, these accidental consequences are called “licensing effects”. After doing something good, people appear to give themselves a license to do something a little bad.

Meijers and her team of researchers conducted a survey on  a city where a major Dutch fundraising drive called Serious Request is being held. The findings of the survey suggest that people who had donated in the last week were little less likely to do eco-friendly activities such as paying more for cleaner electricity or signing a petition for an environment cause.

Furthermore, the researchers found that the amount of donation didn’t affect such behavior.

Interestingly, individuals who donated to charities more frequently were more keen in doing green activities compared to others.

Still, more research is needed to be done in order to fully understand the psychology of giving since the study didn’t prove that doing charity work caused the decrease in eco-friendly feelings. Moreover, guilt may also be a factor since a person who has not recently given to charity may see more interest in doing a good thing in the future.

What Are The Positive Effects of Doing Charity Work?

Charity has tremendous positive effects not only for the recipients. According to Pursue Action, giving time, money, goods, or materials to serve the poor and the needy also benefits the giver.

Doing charitable work reduces stress, improves health, increases longevity, aids personal growth, improves balance between life and work and brings people with common goals together.