When we ask ourselves, “Would I cheat on a client? Would I cheat on my spouse?” for most of us the answer is no, but are we right? Is taking a bandage off with a quick rip better than a slow, steady pull? Ariely shows us that from small questions like the last one, we can gain insight into larger issue of economic and political moral behavior.

Why you should listen:

Ariely has long been fascinated with how emotional states, moral codes and peer pressure affect our ability to make rational and often extremely important decisions in our daily lives — across a spectrum of our interests, from economic choices (how should I invest?) to personal (who should I marry?).

Who is he:

At Duke, he’s aligned with three departments (business, economics and cognitive neuroscience); he’s also a visiting professor in MIT’s Program in Media Arts and Sciences and a founding member of the Center for Advanced Hindsight. His hope that studying and understanding the decision-making process can help people lead better, more sensible daily lives.


  1. What brought Ariely to question how bandages should be removed – quickly or slowly?
  1. Did his first experimental studies find that intensity or duration was most significant for people experiencing pain?
    A) A lot
    B) A little
    C) Not at all
  1. Ariely went on to study cheating and found that many people are willing to cheat:
  1. Ariely found that reminders of moral codes were effective (1) or were ineffective (2) in preventing cheating.
  1. What influence does seeing members of our “in group” cheat have on personal behavior according to experimental results?
  1. What implications does Ariely see about his experimental results for economics, business and politics? Discuss in a paragraph length explanation.

Our buggy moral code with Dan Ariely


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