Do you know of anyone who has suppressed bad news to preserve their career or reputation?Or told the boss what they wanted to hear instead of the truth?Or overlooked a red flag to preserve the sense of harmony in the workplace?Most often ego is catalogued as 'good' or 'bad', but what if it's simply about your relationship with yourself? At the heart of the matter your ego, your self-esteem, self-worth and personal sense of security, chaperons your decision-making. Does the business culture have an impact on your ego?It’s absurd to pretend that the business culture doesn’t have an
An excerpt from The Ethical Brain by Michael Gazzaniga. Also available on web site: online catalogs, secure online ordering, excerpts from new books. Sign up for email notification of new releases in your field.
A team of Canadian researchers has combined the art of magic and the science of psychology to demonstrate how certain contextual factors can sway the decisions people make, even though they may feel that they are choosing freely.
This report explores “nudging,” a new, cost-effective policy tool than can be used to modify behaviours that cause disease or undermine our well-being, thereby improving quality of life and the sustainability of health care systems.
For me personally it has always been a struggle, reading through all the philosophical and religious literature I have a long standing interest in, to verbalize my intuitive concept of morals in any satisfactory way. Luckily for me, once I’ve started reading up on modern psychology and neuroscience, I found out that there are empirical models based on clustering of the abundant concepts that correlate well with both our cultured intuitions and our knowledge of brain functioning. Models that are for the studies of Ethics what the Big Five traits are for personality theories or what the Cattell-Horn-Carroll theory is for cognitive abilities. In this post I’m going to provide an account of research of what is the most elucidating level of explanation of human morals – that of neuroscience and psychology. The following is not meant as a comprehensive review, but a sample of what I consider the most useful explanatory tools. The last section touches briefly upon genetic and endocrinological component of human morals, but it is nothing more than a mention. Also, I’ve decided to omit citations in quotes, because I don’t want to include into the list of reference the research I am personally unfamiliar with.
Decision-makers show an increased risk appetite when they gamble with previously won money, the house money effect, and when they have a chance to make up for a prior loss, the break even effect. To explore the origins of these effects, we use functional magnetic resonance imaging to record the brain activities of subjects while they make sequential risky choices. The behavioral data from our experiment confirm the path dependence of choices, despite the short trial duration and the many task repetitions required for neuroimaging. The brain data yield evidence that the increased risk appetite after gains and losses is related to an increased activity of affective brain processes and a decreased activity of deliberative brain processes.
Abstract: An important difficulty in many models of behavioral economics is that preferences are endogenous and unstable. Therefore, preferences may not provide the most desirable yardstick to evaluate social states. This paper proposes unconditional love as a candidate for such a yardstick. The concept of unconditional love, although sublime, is often hard to apply for practical policy recommendations. We propose an intermediary learning stage, where learning to unconditionally love is desirable, and policies that promote such learning are deemed to be good. We illustrate the use of this principle in models of endogenous altruism.
Pioneer of sociometry, Dr. Jakob Moreno, defined it as “the inquiry into the evolution and organisation of groups and the position of individuals within them.” He went on to describe it as “the …science of group organization – it attacks the problem not from the outer structure of the group, the group surface, but from the inner structure. Sociometric explorations reveal the hidden structures that give a group its form: the alliances, the subgroups, the hidden beliefs, the forbidden agendas, the ideological agreements, the ‘stars’ of the show.”
Sociometry aims to bring about greater spontaneity (willingness to act) and creativity within groups of people. Greater spontaneity and creativity brings about greater group task effectiveness and satisfaction amongst its members. Sociometry teaches us that the quality of an outcome is directly related to the quality of relationship between the people trying to generate that outcome. Research sociometry is an exploration of the social networks within which we exist. This type of enquiry provides us with social maps and shows us how strongly people are connected to each other. The full power of sociometry is realised when people have access to the information on such maps and are then able to make meaning of it themselves and to engage with each other about what lies behind their social choices. Sociometry emphasises encounter. Applied, or action, sociometry uses a range of methods to assist groups to uncover, develop and deepen their social connections. So, in a workplace for example, using a question such as “Who would you go to if you needed advice on a work problem,” applied sociometry invites people to make those choices overt and then to discuss what lies behind those choices: Why did you choose this person? Why did you choose me? What does that information mean and what can we do with it so that we can get better at achieving our shared purpose?
The basic starting point is that in standard economics you assume that people are perfectly rational and you try to understand why they behave in the way that they do. But the starting point is that people are perfectly rational. For example, you see people are obese. You don't ask if obesity is the right choice. You assume obesity is the right choice for people. And then you say: ‘Why do they choose this?’ You would say perhaps that people enjoy food more than they care about living. Life is just not that good, food is fantastic, people are making the right trade-off. But you assume that people are making the right decision. In behavioural economics we're kind of agnostic. We're basically saying we don't know if people are rational or irrational, let's just examine how people behave. And because of that we often find that people don't behave rationally and we have very different conclusions. With obesity we might say that people might want to be healthy and live longer and feel better about themselves, but doughnuts are very hard to resist. And chocolate cake at the end of the meal is hard to resist. And people have no clue about how these things accumulate and it's a slow progression of time of obesity and we don't see it happening every time. So we have lots of reasons of why people behave like this.
Now, I think there are two usages for behavioural economics. One is to attack economics. I think this is useful not so much because economics deserves more attacking than any other discipline, but because economics has been more influential on policy and business. So if economics had stayed in academia and people had taught economics and it had never become the social science of choice for policy and business, I don't think we would have attacked economics. There would be no reason for that. The reason most people attack economics is not because we want to change economics. It's because we want to change the people who use economics for practical purposes. I love economics. Economics has lots of wonderful things. I want people to study economics as it is. I don't want everything to be behavioural economics. Economists should do what economists do, but when people use them for policy, for business, they should say: ‘Let's be careful about using it.’
The second type of behavioural economics, which I actually care more about, is really about applied social science. It's saying it's not just about economics or psychology or sociology or anthropology, it's really about creating a new world for ourselves. We keep on creating new things in it. Computer interfaces, technology, food, space travel. We're doing so many things. How do the things that we're doing fit with our own ability to make good and wrong decisions? Let's try and just figure it out. The nice thing about it, if you think about history, you just look back. The nice thing about social sciences, we're envisioning the future. So we can ask ourselves, if you're going to create a different version of Facebook, one that would actually increase productivity, what would it look like? If you created a new way for people to take medication, what would it look like? So we don't just ask questions about the past, we ask questions about the future. We ask questions about how would you engineer the world, how would you design the world in a way that you move it forward in a way that is more beneficial. So for me it's all about using social science in the experimental strategy as a tool to figure out where we are, what we do well and what kind of future we want to create for ourselves.
Abstract: We study how website defaults affect consumer behavior in the domain of charitable giving. In a field experiment that was conducted on a large platform for making charitable donations over the web, we exogenously vary the default options in two distinct choice dimensions. The first pertains to the primary donation decision, namely, how much to contribute to the charitable cause. The second relates to an "add-on" decision of how much to contribute to supporting the online platformitself. We find a strong impact of defaults on individual behavior: in each of our treatments, the modal positive contributions in both choice dimensions invariably correspond to the specified default amounts. Defaults, nevertheless, have no impact on aggregate donations. This is because defaults in the donation domain induce some people to donate more and others to donate less than they otherwise would have. In contrast, higher defaults in the secondary choice dimension unambiguously induce higher contributions to the online platform.
Abstract: We assess the impact of cognitive abilities on withdrawal decisions in a bank-run game. In our setup, depositors choose sequentially between withdrawing or keeping their funds deposited in a common bank. They may observe previous decisions depending on the information structure. Theoretically, the last depositor in the sequence of decisions has a dominant strategy and should always keep the funds deposited, regardless of what she observes (if anything). Recognizing the dominant strategy, however, is not always straightforward. If there exists strategic uncertainty (e.g., the last depositor has no information about predecessors’ decisions) the identification of the dominant strategy requires harder thinking than when there is not strategic uncertainty (e.g., the last depositor is informed about all previous decisions). We find that cognitive abilities, as measured by the Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT), predict withdrawals in the presence of strategic uncertainty (participants with higher abilities tend to identify the dominant strategy more easily) but the CRT does not predict behavior when there is no strategic uncertainty.
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