Pitfalls to Ethical Decision Making

 Journal Prompt: Today in class, we examined the ways in which human beings, with the best intentions, often make poor ethical decisions. These dynamics actually affect ALL decision-making, not just ethical decision-making. To what extent are ethical lapses a function of psychological phenomena? How do you think you would have performed as a subject in the Milgram study—and why do you think so? What are the ways you think you might be able to reduce the likelihood that you might fall into some of the ethical decision-making traps we explored? When you have fallen into these decision-making traps—whether or not the decision was ethics-related? Discuss these instances, and how you might learn from the experience after today’s discussion. Class Notes: 9 Pitfalls to Ethical Decision Making 1. We obey authority even if it contradicts our own morals. See the Milgram study below. 2. We interpret reality as ‘social proof.’ See Asch’s experiment below. 3. Cognitive Dissonance makes us irrational; we turn away from beliefs that go against our own. 4. We have an irrational self-serving bias. We look for information that confirms what we want to believe. 5. We’re overly optimistic (think of smokers who don’t believe they will be affected). 6. We’re overly confident. We believe things don’t apply to us and we are the exception. 7. We are susceptible to how things are framed. Example: ‘25% fat free’ and ‘75% fat’ represent the same amount, but we would purchase the ‘fat free’ product. 8. We’re susceptible to processes (think of doctors during the holocaust who followed a series of steps before administering a lethal injection). 9. We engage in sunk cost fallacy (think of Vietnam and our escalating commitment to a declining cause. Milgram Experiment https://www.simplypsychology.org/milgram.html Asch’s Experiment https://www.simplypsychology.org/asch-conformity.html You don’t need to reference any other sources besides what’s listed here.

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