Why good people do bad things?

Posted on November 12, 2014

It is often asked why good people do bad things. Perhaps the question should be when.

More likely, it's in the afternoon or evening. Much less so in the morning.

That's the finding of research, published in the journal Psychological Science, which concludes that a person's ability to self-regulate declines as the day wears on, increasing the likelihood of cheating, lying or committing fraud.

This so-called morning morality effect results from “cognitive tiredness,” said Isaac H. Smith, an assistant professor at the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University and co-author of the article with Maryam Kouchaki, an assistant professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern. “To the extent that you’re cognitively tired,” Dr. Smith added, “you’re more likely to give in to the devil on your shoulder.”

The findings draw from four experiments that convened two groups of subjects, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. In the first experiment, undergraduates looked at different images of dots on a computer screen and reported whether the dots in each image were concentrated on the left side or the right side.

If subjects said the dots were bunched on the right, they earned 5 cents, with a chance to earn up to $5. They could earn the money even if they “cheated” by saying that the dots were concentrated on the right when they were not.

In the first experiment, subjects cheated 25 percent more often in the afternoon. That finding was reinforced in subsequent experiments.

Click on the link below to read the full article

Source material from New York Times

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