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Does Ethics Training Neutralize the Incentives of the Prisoner's Dilemma? Evidence from a Classroom Experiment

Harvey S. James, Jr. and Jeffrey P. Cohen
Journal of Business Ethics
Vol. 50, No. 1 (Mar., 2004), pp. 53-61
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25123193
Page Count: 9
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Abstract

Teaching economics has been shown to encourage students to defect in a prisoner's dilemma game. However, can ethics training reverse that effect and promote cooperation? We conducted an experiment to answer this question. We found that students who had the ethics module had higher rates of cooperation than students without the ethics module, even after controlling for communication and other factors expected to affect cooperation. We conclude that the teaching of ethics can mitigate the possible adverse incentives of the prisoner's dilemma, and, by implication, the adverse effects of economics and business training.

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