There was an article in the Guardian that talks about how “green” consumers may be more likely to engage in socially irresponsible or unethical behavior due to a phenomenon called “compensatory ethics.” I take that to mean that if a person feels good about himself for one reason (he only buys fair trade organic coffee, for instance) he won’t feel as bad about himself if he steals from the barista’s tip jar.
In the words of Dieter Frey, a social psychologist at the University of Munich quoted in the Guardian piece, “at the moment in which you have proven your credentials in a particular area, you tend to allow yourself to stray elsewhere.”
Does that mean your hippie friends are cheaters? No – but it does explain why my vegetarian roommate was habitually rude and inconsiderate.
NatureBlog picked up on it too!