Is that the answer you had in mind? The effect of perspective on unethical behavior Academic Article uri icon


  • We explored how the perspective through which individuals view their actions influences their ethicality, comparing a narrow perspective that allows for evaluation of each choice in isolation, to a broad perspective that promotes an aggregate view of one's choices. To examine unethical behavior we employed a computerized variation of a trivia game that challenges the player's integrity because, rather than choosing the correct answer, players indicate whether the correct highlighted answer is the answer they had in mind. In Experiment 1 perspective was modified through the choice procedure: broad perspective evoked by an aggregate decision regarding the upcoming test items and narrow perspective evoked by a segregated decision regarding each upcoming test item. In Experiment 2 perspective was evoked through differential priming. Across both experiments, when given a monetary incentive to succeed, the adoption of a narrow perspective increased cheating, as evidenced by overall higher reported success rates.

publication date

  • January 1, 2012