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The Effect of Perspective on Unethical Behavior

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  • Amos Schurr
  • Ilana Ritov
  • Yaakov Kareev
  • Judith Avrahami

Abstract

In two experiments, we explored how the perspective through which individuals view their decisions influences their moral behavior. To do this we employed a computerized “Is that the answer you had in mind?” trivial-pursuit style game. The game challenges individuals’ integrity because cheating during play cannot be detected. Perspective, whether local or global, was manipulated: In Experiment 1 the choice procedure was used to evoke a local or an integrative perspective of one’s choices, whereas in Experiment 2, perspective was manipulated through priming. Across all the experiments, we observed that when given an incentive to cheat, the adoption of a local perspective increased cheating, as evidenced by overall higher reported success rates. These findings have clear implications for explaining and controlling behavior in other situations (e.g., exercising, dieting) in which the perspective one takes is a matter of choice.

Suggested Citation

  • Amos Schurr & Ilana Ritov & Yaakov Kareev & Judith Avrahami, 2012. "The Effect of Perspective on Unethical Behavior," Discussion Paper Series dp620, The Federmann Center for the Study of Rationality, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
  • Handle: RePEc:huj:dispap:dp620
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    File URL: http://ratio.huji.ac.il/sites/default/files/publications/dp620.pdf
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    1. Bazerman, Max H. & Moore, Don A. & Tenbrunsel, Ann E. & Wade-Benzoni, Kimberly A. & Blount, Sally, 1999. "Explaining how preferences change across joint versus separate evaluation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 41-58, May.
    2. Irwin, Julie R & Slovic, Paul & Lichtenstein, Sarah & McClelland, Gary H., 1993. "Preference Reversals and the Measurement of Environmental Values," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 6(1), pages 5-18, January.
    3. Mead, N.L. & Baumeister, R.F. & Gino, F. & Schweitzer, M.E. & Ariely, D., 2009. "Too tired to tell the truth : Self-control resource depletion and dishonesty," Other publications TiSEM c60167a3-c3aa-4b83-9192-1, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
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