Behavioral ethics

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Definition 1:

Behavioral ethics is a new field of social scientific research that seeks to understand how people actually behave when confronted with ethical dilemmas.[1] It refers to behavior that is judged according to generally accepted norms of behavior.[2]

Definition 2:

Behavioral ethics is a new field to determine the reason that people make the ethical decision,both good and bad, that they do using behavioral psychology, cognitive science and related fields.[3]

Other explanation:

What we found is that when people are thinking about honesty versus dishonesty, it's all about being able, at the moment, to rationalize something and make yourself think that this is actually okay. - Dan Ariely, a professor of behavioral economics at the Duke University Fuqua School of Business.[4]

Behavioral ethics in different fields[edit]

Behavioral ethics and education[edit]

In ethics teaching and research, ethics is arguably the "next big thing" because its �investigation agenda has generated many knowledge on why and how people choose and act when being confronted with ethical subject, which was unknown previously.[5]

Behavioral Ethics and Rational Actor Model[edit]

Philosophical views about morality has been supported traditionally by theoretical reasoning and introspection, with at best passing reference to actual human behavior. Models of human morality advanced by behavioral ethics based on the fact that morality is a new and still developing quality of the evolutionary dynamic that leads to our species.[6]

Behavioral Ethics Meets Behavioral Law and Economics[edit]

Clarifying the difference between behavioral law and economics(BEL) and behavioral ethics(BE) is of importance. Compared to BLE, BE has reduced its ability of influencing broad legal academic circles. In addition, unlike BLE, BE was advanced as piece of the management literature, which is less related to legal scholarship than BLE is, and thus less likely to have impact on it.[7]

Behavioral Ethics and Justice[edit]

Behavioral ethics researchers have found the relationship between employees' justice perceptions and also, ethical and unethical behavior. In the 1990s, organizational justice became one of the most studied organizational themes. The term organizational justice is created by Greenberg(1987) to involve employee's perception of organizational events, policies, and practices as being fair or not fair. Classic work on distributive justice, procedural justice and interactional justice has been built. This research has focused on theoretical advance and empirical testing about the formation of justice judgements as well as the result of these justice evaluation. Justice and injustice perception have been related to an extensive variety of employee attitudes and behaviors consisted of trust, satisfaction, turnover and plenty of opposite formal negative behaviors such as theft and unethical behaviors which are more common.[8]


There are experiments that can be linked to behavioral ethics. The Trolley problem and the Prisoner's dilemma both place individuals in decision-making situations that carry ethical questions. In each, an individual is asked to make a decision that affects another person. In the prisoner's dilemma, the principles of Reciprocity (social psychology) and Cooperation come into play, but not all who participate behave in the same manner. In the Trolley problem an individual has to choose which group of people to save. Both of these experiments shed light on how people behave when confronted with ethical dilemmas.

The impact of behavioral ethics[edit]

If firms are able to utilize the principles of behavioral psychology to alter consumer's behavior and thus increase sales and governments can change people's behavior and hence promote policy target using those same principles, then individuals and their employers can apply related principles of behavioral ethics to promote ethical behavior in the company and in society.[9]

Examples of Ethical Behavior in Business Meetings[edit]

At most business conference, employees are required to report on the progress of their missions. It can lead to an ethical dilemma because they may report their performance better than it is due to external pressure.[10]

Unethical behavior[edit]

Unethical behavior is an action that falls outside of what is thought morally appropriate for a person, a job or a company. Individuals can act unethically, as can businesses, professionals and politicians.[11]

Unethical behavior in business[edit]

Ethics can be defined as going beyond what is legal and doing right things, even no one is paying attention to. So unethical behavior in business is about actions that don't obey the acceptable criterion of business operations, failing to do right things in each condition.[12]


  1. ^ Bazerman, Max H. and Tenbrunsel, Ann E. "Blind Spots: Why we fail to do what's right and what to do about it". Princeton University Press, 2011, p. 4.
  2. ^ Trevino, Linda K., Weaver, Gary R., and Reynolds, Scott J. "Behavioral Ethics in Organizations: A review". Journal of Management, 2006, p. 952.
  3. ^ "Intro to Behavioral Ethics - Ethics Unwrapped - UT Austin". Ethics Unwrapped. Retrieved 2015-11-04. 
  4. ^ "June 27, 2014 ~ Behavioral Ethics | June 27, 2014 | Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly | PBS". Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly. Retrieved 2015-11-05. 
  5. ^ Robert, Prentice. "Teaching behavioral ethics" (PDF). 
  6. ^ Herbert, Gintis. "Behavioral Ethics" (PDF). 
  7. ^ Feldman, Yuval (2013-10-03). "Behavioral Ethics Meets Behavioral Law and Economics". Rochester, NY. SSRN 2226711Freely accessible. 
  8. ^ "Behavioral Ethics in Organizations: A Review" (PDF). 
  9. ^ Prentice, Robert A. (2014-04-12). "Behavioral Ethics: Can It Help Lawyers (and Others) Be Their Best Selves?". Rochester, NY. SSRN 2424249Freely accessible. 
  10. ^ "Examples of Ethical Behavior in Business Meetings". Small Business - Retrieved 2015-11-05. 
  11. ^ "Examples of Unethical Behavior". YourDictionary. Retrieved 2015-11-05. 
  12. ^ "Unethical Behavior in Business: Definition & Examples - Video & Lesson Transcript |". Retrieved 2015-11-05.