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Higher social class predicts increased unethical behavior

by Pythagorean
Tags: behavior, class, increased, predicts, social, unethical
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atyy
#19
Nov3-13, 01:20 AM
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Quote Quote by Pythagorean View Post
Social scientists know that self-reporting is a flawed method of data collection; that's why the authors qualify with "exhibit". They're essentially making the claim about self-reporting, not behavior. The author's interpretation I sensed from the video marcus posted is that higher class individuals are less ashamed of unethical behavior, that they even feel justified. So your criticism is essentially a straw man.
Their title is "Higher social class predicts increased unethical behavior".

Quote Quote by Pythagorean View Post
The following are kind of silly criticisms, so I don't think they need to be addressed:
I don't see how their lying is a silly criticism in a study which purports to study ethical behaviour.

It also impacts their claims. If they make a claim which is obviously false (it makes no sense that you roll dice online, but those who set up the game don't know what is rolled), then those playing may know they are in an experiment in which they have been "set up", and may consequently lie because they just think they are playing the same game. That is not unethical (like in poker).
Pythagorean
#20
Nov3-13, 05:05 AM
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Quote Quote by atyy View Post
Their title is "Higher social class predicts increased unethical behavior".
We were talking about the conclusion of two of seven studies in which self-reporting was involved. The title is a synthesis of all seven studies.

I don't see how their lying is a silly criticism in a study which purports to study ethical behaviour.
Because it doesn't invalidate the merit of the claims. Likewise, police lie to suspects to get them to confess... and similarly it doesn't invalidate the conviction. It may not be fair or right, but it doesn't invalidate the conclusion.
atyy
#21
Nov3-13, 08:28 AM
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Quote Quote by Pythagorean View Post
We were talking about the conclusion of two of seven studies in which self-reporting was involved. The title is a synthesis of all seven studies.
But 1&2 based on the vehicle status are flawed (with additional criticisms from you and Russ Watters), 2 studies are based on self-reporting, one is frivolous (the candy one), leaving only 2 studies. One of which is not clearly unethical if they simply don't answer the question about job security (eg. if they replied, "Sorry, I am not able to give you infornation about job security at the moment), leaving only the one study in which the experimenters lied. As you correctly point out, their lie alone does not invalidate the claim, so I added in post #19 a criticism of the methodology based on the lie.

Here's a specific scenario. Let's say the rules allow me to play the game multiple times, or allow me and a group of friends to play. By comparing my rolls with those of my friends, I will be able to tell that the game is rigged (all our outcomes are identical). Once I know the game is rigged, ie. those who set up the game consider that lying is fair, then why not play the game according to their rules. One may say, for example, that since the outcomes are known, neither lying nor telling the truth makes a difference, so why not just lie to mess with those who set up the game? We know that lying does not affect the fairness of the game for other gamers, so it is not unethical.
Pythagorean
#22
Nov3-13, 10:24 AM
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We are not in complete disagreement about 1&2. I think 1&2 do demonstrate something about self-perceptions of social image, but not about wealth in general. Similarly, the self-reporting demonstrates something about image (wealthier people tend to be less ashamed of unethical choices). The candy one is not frivolous, it demonstrates entitlement (it doesn't really matter that it was for children). Entitlement is not unethical alone, but it would contribute negatively towards an overall ethical score.

As for your criticism in #19 (I apologize, I have limited slots of free time that pop up so I can't completely reply to every post every time, especially more nuanced posts).

It also impacts their claims. If they make a claim which is obviously false (it makes no sense that you roll dice online, but those who set up the game don't know what is rolled), then those playing may know they are in an experiment in which they have been "set up", and may consequently lie because they just think they are playing the same game. That is not unethical (like in poker).
Again, the unethical conclusion comes form the synthesis. All that's being showed in this one study is the propensity to lie. It's not automatically unethical from there.

The synthesis is that given some low level of competition, a certain situations is more likely to lead people to lie, feel entitled, are less ashamed of unethical behavior, and neglect to disclose information (like job security to an employee) in experiments, then I think it's ok to predict that they, in general, have a lower threshold for unethical behavior in nature, where competition level is higher (more to lose, more to gain).

Each of the studies independently does not demonstrate unethical behavior.
marcus
#23
Nov3-13, 11:54 AM
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Hi Pyth, I am glad to see you mentioned the feeling of *entitlement*. That was the key word that Greg Bernhardt used in his original post the started the other thread we had about this research.

AFAICS the research was not especially biased or badly designed and AFAICS it uncovered statistically real effects. People can differ as to how they want to TALK about the correlations in behavior that the experimenters seem to have found.

I personally would not use the word "unethical" at this point because that gets into the topic of ethics. What strikes me is that there could be something analogous to the resolution of cognitive dissonance. If you find that you are better off or higher status then maybe there is a natural tendency to want to feel that you *deserve* this and that you have extra prerogatives privileges, are entitled to more, and perhaps even that ordinary limitations don't apply as strictly.

Not sure about the last, different people would presumably respond differently to perception of higher status.
Some might become more honorable and scrupulous, be inspired to generosity and self-restraint. Doubtless the effects are merely statistical.

Anyway I certainly don't dismiss their research--I found it interesting and thought parts of the video were actually entertaining. I'm glad you started this thread about it and appreciate your clear patient discussion of it.
Pythagorean
#24
Nov3-13, 12:41 PM
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Thank you marcus. I think that there's a tendency for people to jump to "second-option bias" with complexity topics like sociology. We are given the first default option, but once we hear an ounce of valid criticism, we over-correct and want to dismiss the study.

I think the study deserves some criticism, but I also think people go overboard and start trying to throw every noodle at the wall to see what sticks in an attempt to be critical. I also think people are misinterpreting the purpose of the study and assuming the authors are committing fundamental attribution error.
atyy
#25
Nov3-13, 08:27 PM
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Quote Quote by Pythagorean View Post
The synthesis is that given some low level of competition, a certain situations is more likely to lead people to lie, feel entitled, are less ashamed of unethical behavior, and neglect to disclose information (like job security to an employee) in experiments, then I think it's ok to predict that they, in general, have a lower threshold for unethical behavior in nature, where competition level is higher (more to lose, more to gain).

Each of the studies independently does not demonstrate unethical behavior.
Quote Quote by Pythagorean View Post
Thank you marcus. I think that there's a tendency for people to jump to "second-option bias" with complexity topics like sociology. We are given the first default option, but once we hear an ounce of valid criticism, we over-correct and want to dismiss the study.

I think the study deserves some criticism, but I also think people go overboard and start trying to throw every noodle at the wall to see what sticks in an attempt to be critical. I also think people are misinterpreting the purpose of the study and assuming the authors are committing fundamental attribution error.
So the question is the strength of the evidence in favour of their synthesis. Have they established their synthesis to the point where no additional studies are needed to confirm it? Or should we still regard their synthesis as a proposal (as the Higgs boson was until recently).

If it is still regarded as a proposal, isn't it important to consider alternative explanations of their data?

Also, should the synthesis should be weakened to "entitlement" rather than "ethical", as marcus suggests in post #23?
Chronos
#26
Nov4-13, 12:37 AM
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I view this as a pure survival behavior pattern. If you have access to superior resources, will you refrain from accessing them to spare yourself from hardship? Similarly, are you inclined to refrain from using those same resources to avoid 'bad' situations? Is lying 'evil'? In what context? Is outsmarting, or duping a business adversary into a 'bad' deal 'evil'? Whom is to say what is 'bad'? Survival is an unending struggle.
atyy
#27
Nov12-13, 11:07 AM
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http://www.sciencedirect.com/science...04405X13001992
http://www.economist.com/whichmba/luxury-and-lies


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