WOULD YOU LIE FOR ME?   Leave a comment


Vanessa K. Bohns at the University of Waterloo in Ontario published a very sobering account of how easily people can be induced to violate ethical norms – much easier than people think it is. A secondary lesson to be drawn is that if we fail to speak up for what we think is right, we aid and abet people inducing others to do wrong.

NY Times FEB. 9, 2014
WHAT is the chance that you could get someone to lie for you? What about vandalizing public property at your suggestion?
Most of us assume that others would go along with such schemes only if, on some level, they felt comfortable doing so. If not, they’d simply say “no,” right?
Yet research suggests that saying “no” can be more difficult than we believe — and that we have more power over others’ decisions than we think.
Social psychologists have spent decades demonstrating how difficult it can be to say “no” to other people’s propositions, even when they are morally questionable — consider Stanley Milgram’s infamous experiments, in which participants were persuaded to administer what they believed to be dangerous electric shocks to a fellow participant.
…We examined this question in a series of studies in which we had participants ask strangers to perform unethical acts. …students asked 108 unfamiliar students to vandalize a library book.
… more targets complied than participants had anticipated. …fully half of those who were approached agreed. Moreover, 87 percent of participants underestimated the number they would be able to persuade to vandalize the book.
…If we do not recognize the extent to which our suggestions and actions are likely to affect others’ behavior, we may be careless about the things we say and do. On the other hand, we may fail to speak up for what we think is right.
–Vanessa K. Bohns is an assistant professor of management sciences at the University of Waterloo in Ontario. This research was recently published in the journal, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: