Justifications Shape Ethical Blind Spots

Abstract

To some extent, unethical behavior results from people’s limited attention to ethical considerations, which results in an ethical blind spot. Here, we focus on the role of ambiguity in shaping people’s ethical blind spots, which in turn lead to their ethical failures. We suggest that in ambiguous settings, individuals' attention shifts toward tempting information, which determines the magnitude of their lies. Employing a novel ambiguous-dice paradigm, we asked participants to report the outcome of the die roll appearing closest to the location of a previously presented fixation cross on a computer screen; this outcome would determine their pay. We varied the value of the die second closest to the fixation cross to be either higher (i.e., tempting) or lower (i.e., not tempting) than the die closest to the fixation cross. Results of two experiments revealed that in ambiguous settings, people’s incorrect responses were self-serving. Tracking participants' eye movements demonstrated that people’s ethical blind spots are shaped by increased attention toward tempting information.

Publication
Psychological Science
Andrea Pittarello
Andrea Pittarello
currently at the Psychology Department of Virginia Tech

I worked in Italy, Arizona, Israel, the Netherlands, and Brooklyn (NY). I study judgment and decision-making.

Margarita Leib
Margarita Leib
Postdoctoral researcher

I am interested in decision making and behavioral ethics.

Tom Gordon-Hecker
Tom Gordon-Hecker
currently at School of Business Administration at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Interested in fairness, ethics and other things we fail to maintain

Shaul Shalvi
Shaul Shalvi
Professor of Behavioral Ethics

My research interests include fairness, equality, values and norms.

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