An All Things Considered segment (MP3) with Chana Joffe-Walt and Alix Spiegel looks at the circumstances that lead to people cheating and committing other frauds. They frame it with the true story of Toby Groves, whose brother had been convicted of fraud, and whose father made him swear a solemn oath to be upstanding in his business dealings. However, Groves found himself committing fraud later, and brought several of his employees in on it.
Typically when we hear about large frauds, we assume the perpetrators were driven by financial incentives. But psychologists and economists say financial incentives don't fully explain it. They're interested in another possible explanation: Human beings commit fraud because human beings like each other.
We like to help each other, especially people we identify with. And when we are helping people, we really don't see what we are doing as unethical.
Lamar Pierce, an associate professor at Washington University in St. Louis, points to the case of emissions testers. Emissions testers are supposed to test whether or not your car is too polluting to stay on the road. If it is, they're supposed to fail you. But in many cases, emissions testers lie.
"Somewhere between 20 percent and 50 percent of cars that should fail are passed — are illicitly passed," Pierce says.
Financial incentives can explain some of that cheating. But Pierce and psychologist Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School say that doesn't fully capture it.
Psychology Of Fraud: Why Good People Do Bad Things
Thersa Matsuura was born and raised in the USA but spent the past 25 years — more than half her life — living in a small Japanese fishing village with her husband and son.
Conversations with People Who Hate Me is a new podcast from the Welcome to Night Vale folks in which Dylan Marron, who voices Carlos the Scientist on Night Vale, tracks down the people who troll him online and has long, thoughtful, substantive (and funny!) discussions about where they’re coming from.
Brian H writes, “Cartoonist Mike Diana is the first artist in the US to receive a criminal conviction for artistic obscenity. Here he recounts (MP3) the trial that barred him from drawing for three years and has made it impossible for him to return to Florida nearly 25 years later.”
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