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Social, Behavioral, and Experimental Economics (SBEE) pres.

Social, Behavioral & Experimental Economics (SBEE): Lay Theories of Effortful Honesty

Julia Lee, University of Michigan

Economics Economics

Are our moral decisions and actions influenced by our beliefs about how much effort it takes to do the right thing? A rich body of literature in moral psychology debates whether being honest closely resembles System I processes—fast, instinctual, and effortless— or System II processes—slower, deliberative, and effortful. Researchers’ strong emphasis on explaining honesty with either System I or System II thinking has limited the scope of moral psychology investigation to a particular subset of moral situations that bolsters either view. Instead of taking sides with either camp, we move beyond the debate and identify lay theories about morality and effort as an alternative lever of our moral decision making. Specifically, we ask where people actually stand on this debate. This research provides novel insights into how our lay theories linking honesty and effort can help us rationalize our dishonesty.

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