Cognitive dissonance is the psychological discomfort that we feel when our minds entertain two contradictory concepts at the same time.
Ethics Unwrapped Blog
Moral emotions are the feelings and intuitions that play a major role in most of our ethical decision making and actions.
Implicit bias exists when people unconsciously hold attitudes toward others or associate stereotypes with them.
Alabama governor Robert Bentley’s misuse of campaign funds for an extramarital affair cost him more than his political career.
Doctors who overprescribed OxyContin were nicknamed “whales” by Purdue Pharma. While doctors pushed pills, Purdue’s profits were pushed to new heights.
Faced with an emissions test their vehicles could not pass, Volkswagen created a “defeat device” in their engines to sidestep regulations.
After passenger David Dao was forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight, many questioned why airline policies and procedures would allow such a violent deplaning.
Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes promised to revolutionize blood testing technology, but behind all the hype was a massive fraud.
Apparel companies, financial advisers, and managers bribed coaches and families to persuade top student athletes to attend certain schools.
Samsung leader Lee Jae-yong used his company’s economic power to influence president Park Geun-hye, sparking a corruption scandal and political fallout.
Under pressure to meet steep sales goals and incentives, Wells Fargo employees created over a million fraudulent accounts in their customers’ names.
Hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam was known for his savvy investments until an investigation found him guilty of insider trading.
Following the conviction of assistant coach Jerry Sandusky for sexual abuse, debate continues on how much university officials and head coach Joe Paterno knew of the crimes.
Allegations of sexual assault by film producer Harvey Weinstein prompted many in Hollywood to reckon with how much they knew about his behavior and why they did not speak up.
Amid declining sales, British supermarket chain Tesco overstated profits to maintain company value. The irregularities in accounting did not go unnoticed.
University of Texas at Austin professor Chip Groat did not see a conflict of interest between his research on hydraulic fracturing and his payments from a Houston-based fracking company.
Fearing a loss of profits, the Peanut Corporation of America knowingly shipped peanuts that were contaminated with salmonella.
Purdue Pharma aggressively marketed OxyContin as a safe pain medicine. As sales and profits increased, so did the number of patients addicted to painkillers.
Michael Flynn sparked controversy by leading a chant to “lock up” Hillary Clinton, but soon he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
Lofty standardized testing goals and unequal resources lead teachers and administrators in the Atlanta Public Schools district to cheat.
University of Kentucky student Henry Lynch II crawled through the ducts of his professor’s office to steal the final exam, but later confessed to the crime.
Investigations into international soccer organization FIFA uncover extensive bribery and kickbacks among officials around the world.
Credit reporting agency Equifax took several weeks to respond to a cybersecurity data breach, putting millions of people at risk of identity theft.
Pharmaceutical company Mylan defends the drastic price increase of EpiPen, but patients who need the drug question Mylan’s reasons for the outrageous spike.
While many were outraged when the price of Daraprim rose from $13.50 per tablet to $750, Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Skreli saw himself as a Robin Hood.
British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline bribed its way into many hospitals in China, but Chinese regulators did not tolerate the company’s corruption.
Countrywide Financial was one of the largest mortgage lenders in the United States, but CEO Angelo Mozilo did not heed his own warnings in the lead-up to the 2007 financial crisis.
While the Baylor University football team was winning on the field, university officials failed to take action when allegations of sexual assault by student athletes emerged.
Cyclist Lance Armstrong thought his use of performance-enhancing drugs was a way to level the playing field in a sport with pervasive doping.
UNC Chapel Hill enrolled student athletes with poor academic performance in fake classes so they would remain eligible to play. The classes soon enabled widespread academic fraud.
The New England Compounding Center, a compounding pharmacy, knowingly produced and shipped contaminated drugs, leading to a deadly outbreak of meningitis.
The deadly collapse of a garment factory building in Bangladesh stirs debate over worker safety in the effort to drive down prices for international manufacturers and consumers.
25+ short video prompts summarize recent scandals in the news across a range of industries. Each video includes a case study with ethical insight and related terms.
Attribution is giving credit where credit is due. Appropriation is the complex borrowing of ideas, images, symbols, sounds, and identity from others.
Media representations of individuals or groups can hurt by reflecting stereotypes and mistaken beliefs or can help by being truthful and inclusive.
Systematic moral analysis is a tool that helps us to think through ethically complex situations.
The relationship between laws and ethics is not always clear. Although we may have a legal right to do something, this does not necessarily mean it is ethically justified.
Psychological research provides guidance as to how leaders can create a workplace culture that encourages ethical behavior by employees.
The moral example set by leaders has a major impact on the behavior of their subordinates, both good and bad. Despite career success, leaders are particularly vulnerable to ethical lapses.
Relativism is the belief that a harmful act is ‘right’ if the perpetrator claims it is ‘right,’ but what is right and what is wrong is not always relative.
Moral action involves taking the necessary steps to transform the intent to do the right thing into reality. This includes moral ownership, moral efficacy, and moral courage.
Moral intent is the desire to act ethically when facing a decision and overcome the rationalization to not be ethical “this time.”
Moral decision making is the ability to produce a reasonable and defensible answer to an ethical question.
Moral awareness is the ability to detect and appreciate the ethical aspects of a decision that one must make.
Causing harm explores the different types of harm that may be caused to people or groups and the potential reasons we may have for justifying these harms.
Moral myopia is a distortion of moral vision that keeps ethical issues from coming clearly into focus.
Moral muteness is when we communicate in ways that obscure our moral beliefs and commitments, or don’t voice moral sentiments at all.
Moral imagination is our ability to think outside the box and envision ways to be both ethical and successful.
The story of super-lobbyist and convicted felon Jack Abramoff reveals the behavioral ethics biases that led to his downfall. A documentary and 6 short videos. Filmed on campus.
8 short videos explore values-driven leadership, and present the seven principles that support it in life and work. Based on Giving Voice to Values by Mary C. Gentile, PhD.
30+ short videos explain behavioral ethics concepts and basic ethics principles. Research-based, animated, and with students’ life examples.
Behavioral Ethics investigates why people make the ethical (and unethical) decisions that they do in order to gain insights into how people can improve their ethical decision-making and behavior.
We hate losses about twice as much as we enjoy gains, meaning we are more likely to act unethically to avoid a loss than to secure a gain. This phenomenon is known as loss aversion.
Obedience to authority describes our tendency to please authority figures. We may place too much emphasis on that goal and, consciously or subconsciously, subordinate the goal of acting ethically.
Fundamental attribution error describes how, when judging others’ actions, we tend to give too much causal weight to their character and not enough to the circumstances in which they acted.
Tangible and abstract describes how we react more to vivid, immediate inputs than to ones removed in time and space, meaning we can pay insufficient attention to the adverse consequences our actions have on others.
By anticipating the typical reasons & rationalizations given for ethically questionable behavior, you are able to identify and prepare well-reasoned responses.
You are more likely to say words that you’ve pre-scripted for yourself, and more likely to “voice” your values, with scripting and practice.
Self-knowledge and alignment means to voice and act on your values in a way that is consistent with who you are and builds on your strengths.
Define your personal and professional purpose explicitly and broadly before conflicts arise, and appeal to this sense of purpose in others.
Normalization means expecting values conflicts so that you approach them calmly and competently. Over-reaction can limit your choices unnecessarily.
Believe that you have a choice about voicing your values and know what has helped – and hindered you – in the past so you can work around these factors.
Know and appeal to a short list of widely shared values. Dont assume too little or too much commonality with the viewpoints of others.
Giving Voice to Values is learning about how to act on your values effectively – not about wondering whether you could.
Abramoff’s version of moral equilibrium, which describes our tendency to keep a running scoreboard in our heads that compares our self-image as ethical people to our actual behavior.
Abramoff’s version of role morality, which is our tendency to use different moral standards as we play different “roles” in society.
Abramoff’s version of the self-serving bias, which causes us to see things in ways that support our best interests and our pre-existing beliefs.
Abramoff’s version of overconfidence bias, which is our tendency to be more confident about our moral character and our ability to act ethically than is objectively justified.
Abramoff’s version of rationalizations, which are the excuses we make for not living up to our own, or society’s, ethical standards.
Abramoff’s version of framing, which describes how our judgments, including our ethical judgments, are affected just by how a situation is posed or viewed.
Featuring former lobbyist and convicted felon Jack Abramoff, this 25-minute documentary explores the biases and pressures he faced, and the consequences of his unethical decisions.
Bounded ethicality explains how predictable organizational pressures and psychological processes cause us to engage in ethically questionable behavior that is inconsistent with our own values and preferences.
Conflict of interest arises when we have incentives that conflict with our professional duties and responsibilities in ways that cause harm to others and to society.
Conformity bias refers to our tendency to take cues for proper behavior in most contexts from the actions of others rather than exercise our own independent judgment.
Ethical fading occurs when we are so focused on other aspects of a decision that its ethical dimensions fade from view.
Framing describes how our responses to situations, including our ethical judgments, are impacted just by how those situations are posed or viewed.
Incentive gaming, or “gaming the system,” refers to when we figure out ways to increase our rewards for performance without actually improving our performance.
Referred to as the slippery slope, incrementalism describes how we unconsciously lower our ethical standards over time through small changes in behavior.
A moral agent is capable of acting with reference to right and wrong, and has the power to intentionally cause harm to another. A moral subject is anything that can be harmed.
When we do something good we get to thinking of ourselves as pretty good people, and can then give ourselves license to fail to live up to our own ethical standards. This phenomenon is known as moral equilibrium.
The self-serving bias causes us to see things in ways that support our best interests and our pre-existing points of view.
The overconfidence bias is our tendency to be more confident in our ability to act ethically than is objectively justified by our abilities and moral character.
Role morality is the tendency we have to use different moral standards for the different roles we play in society.
When making ethical decisions, the one consideration that a theory favors over all other considerations is called the Fundamental Moral Unit.