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Does Ethics Training Neutralize the Incentives of the Prisoner's Dilemma? Evidence from a Classroom Experiment

Author

Listed:
  • Harvey S. James Jr.

    (University of Missouri)

  • Jeffrey Cohen

    (University of Hartford)

Abstract

Teaching economics has been shown to encourage students to defect in a prisoner's dilemma game. However, can ethics training reverse that effect and promote cooperation? We conducted an experiment to answer this question. We found that students who had the ethics module had higher rates of cooperation than students without the ethics module, even after controlling for communication and other factors expected to affect cooperation. We conclude that the teaching of ethics can mitigate the possible adverse incentives of the prisoner's dilemma, and, by implication, the adverse effects of economics and business training.

Suggested Citation

  • Harvey S. James Jr. & Jeffrey Cohen, 2002. "Does Ethics Training Neutralize the Incentives of the Prisoner's Dilemma? Evidence from a Classroom Experiment," General Economics and Teaching 0202002, EconWPA, revised 12 Mar 2003.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpgt:0202002
    Note: Type of Document - Microsoft Word; prepared on IBM PC; to print on HP; pages: 17; figures: none
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Robert H. Frank & Thomas Gilovich & Dennis T. Regan, 1993. "Does Studying Economics Inhibit Cooperation?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 159-171, Spring.
    2. Becker, Gary S, 1993. "Nobel Lecture: The Economic Way of Looking at Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 385-409, June.
    3. Tullock, Gordon, 1999. "Non-prisoner's dilemma," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 455-458, July.
    4. Robert H. Frank & Thomas D. Gilovich & Dennis T. Regan, 1996. "Do Economists Make Bad Citizens?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 187-192, Winter.
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    Cited by:

    1. Harvey S. James Jr., 2003. "Are Happy People Ethical People? Evidence from North America and Europe," Microeconomics 0303004, EconWPA.
    2. James, Harvey S., Jr., 2002. "Finding Solutions To Ethical Problems In Agriculture," Working Papers 26046, University of Missouri Columbia, Department of Agricultural Economics.
    3. Denis Collins & James Weber & Rebecca Zambrano, 2014. "Teaching Business Ethics Online: Perspectives on Course Design, Delivery, Student Engagement, and Assessment," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 125(3), pages 513-529, December.
    4. Steven Gold, 2010. "The Implications of Rorty’s Post-Foundational “Moral Imagination” for Teaching Business Ethics," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 94(2), pages 299-310, August.
    5. Claudio Weber Abramo, 2003. "What If? A Look at Integrity Pacts," Public Economics 0310008, EconWPA.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Prisoner's dilemma game; experimental game theory; ethics; economics education;

    JEL classification:

    • A20 - General Economics and Teaching - - Economic Education and Teaching of Economics - - - General
    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior

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