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Home / Questions / Intro to Behavioural Ethics | Bounded Ethicality – Ethics Assignment Help Acitvity 1 – Intro to...

Intro to Behavioural Ethics | Bounded Ethicality – Ethics Assignment Help Acitvity 1 – Intro to...

Intro to Behavioural Ethics | Bounded Ethicality – Ethics Assignment Help

Acitvity 1  Intro to Behavioural Ethics


Behavioral ethics is a new field drawing on behavioral psychology, cognitive science and related fields to determine why people make the ethical decisions, both good and bad, that they do. Much behavioral ethics research addresses the question of why good people do bad things.
Behavioral ethics may be the next big thing† in ethics education. N.Y.U. recently asked Prof. Jonathan Haidt, whose research is a major part of the new learning in behavioral ethics, to create a behavioral ethics course there. And John Walsh, who helped create the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations at the SEC, recently wrote in Corporate Counsel that the “ultimate promise of behavioral ethics…is that it provides pragmatic tools that have been demonstrated to work.
Task: Watch the following videos:


Based on the videos that you watch above, answer the following questions (approx 200-300 words)

When asked the vast majority of people will agree with the following two statements. Would you agree with them also?
a. I have solid, well-considered ethical beliefs that can be altered only by reasoned arguments or new evidence.
b. I have character and integrity that will carry me though when I face difficult moral choices.

2. Probably the strongest finding from the last decade research in behavioral ethics is that people simultaneously think of themselves as good people yet frequently lie and cheat (typically in a minor way). Is this consistent with your experience? Do you agree or disagree with the following statements from researchers in the field?
The empirical evidence seems to point to the conclusion that we lie and cheat much more often than we care to admit. At the same time, we strive to maintain a positive image of ourselves, and moral values are a central component of our self-image  (Francesa Gino)
Essentially, we cheat up to the level that allows us to retain our self-image as reasonably honest individuals (Dan Ariely)
Evolution prepared us humans to be devious, self-serving, and only half-honest, inclined to grab the lion share of goodies without being thrown out of the group. Homo sapiens became wired for truthfulness only to the extent that it suited us, pleased others, and preserved our reputations. We are willing to break rules to benefit ourselves, but only within limits we can justify. We are good and fair, most of the time—at least in our own minds—but that doesnt exactly make us straight shooters. Our internal cop stops us only when we contemplated big transgressions (Mark Matousek)

3. Most empirical research indicates that religiosity is not a significant factor in ethical behavior. Atheists and religious people tend to say that the same actions are ethical and unethical. And while religious people tend to give more money and time to their churches and synagogues, religious and nonreligious people otherwise have similar profiles in terms of altruism and volunteerism. Does this surprise you?

4. Have you known good people to do bad things? Either personally, or you’ve heard or read about episodes in the media?

5. If so, how would you explain their conduct?

Activity 2  Bounded Ethicality


Economists have often modelled human decision makers as completely rational. According to this model, rational people know their own preferences, gather and accurately process all relevant information, and then make rational choices that advance their own interests. However, Herbert Simon won a Nobel Prize in economics by pointing out that people are rational, but only boundedly so in that they seldom gather all available information, they often do not accurately process the information that they do gather, nor do they necessarily know what it is that will make them happy. People are rational, but boundedly so.

If the last fifty years of psychological research has proven anything, it’s that the situational often dominates the dispositional. That is to say, our disposition or desire to be good people can be overwhelmed by psychological or organizational factors that we may not even be aware of. These factors adversely affect ethical decision making as well as economic decision making, meaning that people are boundedly ethical as well as boundedly rational.

The basic notion, as spelled out by Professor Ann Tenbrunsel and her colleagues, is that systematic and predictable organizational pressures and psychological processes cause people to engage in ethically questionable behaviors that are inconsistent with their own preferences. Various factors cause us to make unethical decisions that we later regret.

For example, although most of us want to act ethically, we also wish to please authority figures. Therefore, if our boss asks us to do something unethical, we may do it without even realizing our mistake because we are focusing on pleasing the boss rather than on the ethical dimensions of the issue facing us.

To take another example we also have a natural desire to be “part of the team” at work. Therefore, if a questionable action advances the team’s interests, as we perceive them, we may act unethically because, again, we are focusing upon achieving the team’s goals rather than adhering to our own ethical standards.

Most of us want to act ethically, and are certain that we will because we just know we’re good people. But most of us are also overconfident regarding our own ethicality. This can lead to complacency that causes us to make decisions containing ethical dimensions without reflecting deeply.

We’re ethical, it’s true, but bounded so. I recommend a little humility. Only if we truly commit ourselves to being ethical people and diligently guard against the organizational pressures and psychological factors that put bounds upon our ability to be so, can we possibly realize our ethical potential.


May 01 2020 View more View Less

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