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EASP – European Association of Social Psychology

Travel Grant Report

07.03.2018, by Sibylle Classen in grant report

Margarita Leib, University of Amsterdam
Visit at the Wharton business school at the University of Pennsylvania during the fall semester of 2017

The EASP travel grant supported my visit at the Wharton business school at the University of Pennsylvania during the fall semester of 2017. During my visit I developed a project that will be a chapter of my PhD dissertation in collaboration with Prof. Maurice Schweitzer.

So far in my dissertation, I assessed how different social motivations (e.g., altruism, reciprocity, cooperation) push people to behave unethically, and what interventions decrease such behavior. In addition I conducted several projects (in e.g., Psychological Science; Journal of Behavioral Decision Making) in which I study the underlying psychological mechanisms that provide individuals with a justification to break ethical rules and lie. Together with Prof. Schweitzer we ran four experiments aimed at studying whether individuals actively search for information about others’ behavior as a mean to justify their lies. We ask, do people seek information about others’ rule violations in order to justify their own future (potential) violations? And what information does honest and dishonest individuals seek? So far our data show that people are not willing to pay for information about others’ violations, when learning about others’ behavior is costly. However, those who are willing to pay for such information are affected by it. Seeing that others lied increased dishonesty, whereas seeing that others told the truth decreased it. Further studies reveled that seeing even a small fraction of individuals break the rules is enough to justify one’s own rule violation. Upon returning to the University of Amsterdam I presented my findings and received helpful feedback from colleagues. I am currently developing this project further with Prof. Schweitzer.

Additionally, during my visit I had the opportunity to present another chapter of my dissertation in Wharton, Harvard business school, and the SJDM meeting in Vancouver (November 2017). These presentations allowed me to received valuable feedback from top scholars in the decision making field. Lastly, while in US, I traveled to Oklahoma city and attended an interdisciplinary workshop on “Integrity, Honesty, and Truth-Seeking”. The workshop hosted contributors for a book on “Integrity, Honesty, and Truth-Seeking” (Oxford University Press, sponsored by the Templeton Foundation.) In the workshop I presented the book chapter I am contributing to the volume, had a chance to exchange ideas and thoughts with other contributors and got important feedback on the chapter. This chapter will be the basis of an additional theoretical chapter in my dissertation.

I would like to thanks all of those who contributed to this incredible experience. I am grateful to Prof. Maurice Schweitzer for his warm welcome, great hospitality, and the time he dedicated to the development of the project. Lastly, I wish to thanks the European Association of Social Psychology for providing me with the travel grant that allowed me to sponsor this visit.