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Tuesday, December 3, 2019 at 11:40am to 1:10pm
Sage Hall, 141
Johnson Graduate School-Management, 106 Sage Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853-6201, USA
Emma Levine - University of Chicago Booth
The Moral Judgement of Honesty
Abstract: Honesty is one of the most central values to individuals' moral identity, their judgment of others, and the ethical decisions they make every day. Yet, we know very little about how people fundamentally think about honesty. In this talk, I will review new insights on the moral judgment of honesty. First, I will discuss recent research that examines how people fundamentally think about honest and deceptive behaviors. This body of research demonstrates that people only value honesty when it promotes the welfare of the recipient of honesty. As a result, people often believe that deception is more ethical than honesty, and they do so in systematic cases. I will then go on to review an emerging body of research that examines how people fundamentally think about honesty as a policy. This body of research demonstrates that people reward those who take absolute positions on honesty, despite recognizing that exceptions to such a policy should be made. I propose that the desire to avoid moral error underlies this apparent contradiction. I will discuss the implications of these findings for the study and psychology of honesty, ethical dilemmas, and moral judgment broadly.