The Ethical Executive: Becoming Aware of the Root Causes of Unethical Behavior: 45 Psychological Traps That Every One of Us Falls Prey To

By Robert Hoyk; Paul Hersey | Go to book overview

TRAP 17:
ENACTING A ROLE

DAVID MYERS, in his textbook Social Psychology, writes that in any “career, as teacher, soldier, or businessperson, we enact a role that shapes our attitudes.”1

In 1971 at Stanford University, Philip Zimbardo was trying to understand the brutality that often erupted in prisons. He speculated that the environment and the “institutional roles” of the prison guards might be a stronger influence on their behavior than who they were as people. To prove his idea, Zimbardo knew that he had to set up an experiment that used subjects who had never seen the inside of a prison. He also knew that he had to randomly assign subjects to play the roles of guards and prisoners. Using this methodology, any brutality that erupted in the experiment could be attributed to the environment and the roles enacted.

In the basement of the psychology department, Zimbardo and his colleagues constructed a realistic prison. College students volunteered for the experiment. With the “flip of a coin,” students were assigned to be either guards or prisoners. The guards were given uniforms and job descriptions. The prisoners were told that within the next week a police car would arrive at their apartment sometime in the middle of the night. They would be handcuffed and then taken to the prison, where they would be photographed, fingerprinted, given prison garb to wear, and put behind bars.

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The Ethical Executive: Becoming Aware of the Root Causes of Unethical Behavior: 45 Psychological Traps That Every One of Us Falls Prey To
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Foreword xiii
  • The Ethical Executive xv
  • Trapped! 1
  • Why Do Traps Exist, and What Are They? 6
  • Why This Isn’t Just Another Business Ethics Book 8
  • A Word about Research 13
  • Part I - Primary Traps 15
  • Trap 1 - Obedience to Authority 17
  • Trap 2 - Small Steps 21
  • Sidesteppingr Esponsibility 23
  • Trap 6 - Competition 27
  • Self-Interest 31
  • Trap 10 - Conflicts of Loyalty 37
  • Trap 11 39
  • Trap 12 - Conformity Pressure 43
  • Trap 13 - "Don’t Make Waves" 44
  • Trap 14 - Self-Enhancement 46
  • Trap 15 - Time Pressure 48
  • Trap 16 - Decision Schemas 51
  • Trap 17 - Enacting a Role 53
  • Trap 18 - Power 55
  • Trap 19 - Justification 57
  • Trap 20 - Obligation 60
  • Part II - Defensive Traps 61
  • Annihilation of Guilt 63
  • Minimizing 68
  • Trap 33 - Addiction 75
  • Trap 34 - Coworker Reactions 77
  • Trap 35 - Established Impressions 79
  • Trap 36 - Contempt for the Victim 82
  • Trap 37 - Doing Is Believing 85
  • Part III - Personality Traps 87
  • Trap 38 - Psychopathy 89
  • Traps 39 and 40 - Poverty and Neglect 92
  • Trap 41 - Low Self-Esteem 94
  • Trap 42 - Authoritarianism 95
  • Trap 43 - Social Dominance Orientation 96
  • Trap 44 - Need for Closure 98
  • Trap 45 - Empathy 100
  • Part IV - Analyzing Dilemmas 103
  • The Parable of the Sadhu 105
  • Jonestown 109
  • Final Words 117
  • Notes 119
  • Index 131
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