Ethical Nudges

The principal investigator of this project is Sreedhari D. Desai. In this project, Sreedhari and her colleagues use laboratory and field experiments to investigate the role of ethical nudges, or non-coercive ways of leading people down moral pathways. In one segment of this project, they investigated how displaying cues such as moral quotations at the bottom of emails and pictures of moral leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi can trigger implicit psychological processes such that people feel discouraged from behaving unethically. In another segment, they examined how cues related to childhood, such as nursery rhymes and soft toys can activate the construct of moral purity such that after playing with a soft toy or drawing with colored markers, people show less cheating behavior. In a related segment, they found how recollecting childhood memories such as riding your first bicycle can lead to increased generosity toward others. In another segment, they examined how small interventions such as leaving office doors open can cause people to feel more accountable to others and therefore, behave in moral ways. Across the various streams of research described here, Sreedhari and her colleagues identify subtle ways in which policy makers may bring about ethical behavior in individuals and corporations. Sreedhari's research has been covered in a number of publications including the Marker-Haaretz, Outlook Business, and the Harvard Business Review.

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