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Ch. 13 - The Context of Our Character, Part I 
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Post Ch. 13 - The Context of Our Character, Part I
Ch. 13 - The Context of Our Character, Part I



Fri May 28, 2010 6:01 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 13 - The Context of Our Character, Part I
I did not totally buy these tests that he ran on the students. Why would one assume that students were cheating based on the fact that there was a tiny rise in right answers? I am not saying that there were not students who cheated, but I am wondering why we should just assume the rise was because students were cheating. I mean, it seems reasonable to me that if you bring in different people the scores may be slightly different. Different people know different information and some people are smarter than others, etc. I just do not think that these tests were a good way to prove that people were cheating.



Fri Aug 06, 2010 6:10 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 13 - The Context of Our Character, Part I
seespotrun2008 wrote:
I did not totally buy these tests that he ran on the students. Why would one assume that students were cheating based on the fact that there was a tiny rise in right answers? I am not saying that there were not students who cheated, but I am wondering why we should just assume the rise was because students were cheating. I mean, it seems reasonable to me that if you bring in different people the scores may be slightly different. Different people know different information and some people are smarter than others, etc. I just do not think that these tests were a good way to prove that people were cheating.

It's been a while now since I read the chapter. I recall that in at least one condition the difference in cheating was not just significant but dramatic. Ariely says that when he reports a difference it is always statistically significant. We don't see his raw data, so we have to trust him on this. I thought this chapter and the other one on character have some wide implications. Basically, we are prone to cheat and lose our moral bearings without strong social controls. It might be true that we are naturally good when it comes to interacting with our kin and group members, but when we are free from the threat of censure, when we know we can get away with things and we don't seem to be hurting anyone close to us, we are often willing to take advantage. Where I don't agree with Ariely is in seeing anything irrational about this tendency. If anything, it is quite rational. Morality is not itself strictly rational.



Last edited by DWill on Fri Aug 06, 2010 6:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Fri Aug 06, 2010 6:42 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 13 - The Context of Our Character, Part I
Quote:
It's been a while now since I read the chapter. I recall that in at least one condition the difference in cheating was not just significant but dramatic.


Yes, there was one instance where that happened, but most of the differences were a few percentage points. I don’t know maybe that is a huge difference. It just did not seem like it was a big deal. But maybe those percentages in number of people make a huge difference.

Where I don't agree with Ariely is in seeing anything irrational about this tendency. If anything, it is quite rational. Morality is not itself strictly rational.

Good point. Some of these tendencies could just be basic survival. But maybe what he means by irrational is not really irrational. Maybe he is talking about what is considered rational in economics. In the end, he says that economics is based on the ideal of our behavior and not how we really behave. Maybe his use of irrational is somewhat tongue in cheek.

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Fri Aug 06, 2010 7:03 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 13 - The Context of Our Character, Part I
By saying that cheating can be rational, doesn't that essentially prove our predictable irrationality?

I think one has to start by saying that being honest is rational, because if you take the value out of any sort of context and treat it just as an idea, nearly everyone would say that honesty is important; thus, wouldn't living up to that value be the rational choice?



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