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Monday, January 13, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: The Urge to Cheat

     Most people, if pressed, would acknowledge that they could use an ethical tuneup. Maybe last year they fudged some numbers at work or dented a car and failed to leave a note….The problem, research shows, is that how we think we're going to act when faced with a moral decision and how we really do act are often vastly different.

     Here's just one of many examples from an experiment at Northeastern University: Subjects were told they should flip a coin to see who should do certain tasks. One task is long and laborious; the other is short and fun. The participant flips the coin in private (though secretly watched by video cameras), said David DeSteno, a professor of psychology at Northeastern who conducted the experiment. Only 10 percent of them did it honestly. The others didn't flip at all, or kept flipping until the coin came up the way they wanted.

Alina Tugend, "In Life and Business, Learning to be Ethical," The New York Times, January 10, 2014

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