Magazine article USA TODAY

Lapses Occur When in Cahoots with Another

Magazine article USA TODAY

Lapses Occur When in Cahoots with Another

Article excerpt

When individuals make joint decisions, they tend to be less ethical than they would have been if they made the same decision alone, according to a study by researchers from Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Mass., and the University of Pittsburgh (Pa.).

When respondents in one experiment had the opportunity to fraudulently increase their number of tickets in a raffle, 73% did so when they were deciding with a partner, compared to 54% of those deciding alone, the team reported in the Journal of Consumer Research.

'This bad behavior is driven by a good motive," says lead author Hristina Nikolova, assistant professor of marketing at BC. "We find that unethical behavior allows us to bond with others, and people do indeed act on this belief that being 'partners in crime' facilitates bonding. Our innate drive to connect leads us to make less ethical decisions when paired with others."

In another experiment, Nikolova and Pittsburgh researchers Cait Lamberton (chair and associate professor of marketing) and Nicole Coleman (assistant professor of business administration) paired study participants in a virtual chat room to watch a video. …

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