Here is an excerpt from 250words.com on unethical behavior prevention and changing the environment followed by a book review on Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler.

Why do decent people do unethical things?

In a column for Bloomberg, Francesca Gino writes that the biggest business scandals—the downfall of Enron, Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, News of the World phone hacking scandal, rogue trading at UBS—follow a distinct pattern: an individual commits small deviant acts that, over time, mushroom into scandal and subsequent collapse.

Unethical behavior, in other words, typically begins not with bad apples carrying out elaborate schemes but minor violations—stealing office supplies, rounding up expense reports, calling in “sick”—that everyone is guilty of. Gino cites one study that found that three-quarters of respondents reported that they had observed coworkers commit “unethical” or “illegal” behavior in the past year.

Just how much does petty office thievery lead to a slippery slope of bad behavior?

Most of us will never be in the same sentence as Madoff or Skilling, but Gino’s research suggests that we’ll break more rules if we violate small ones first. “When given a series of problem-solving tasks, 50% of our subjects cheated to earn $.25 per problem in the first round, and 60% cheated to earn $2.50 per problem in the final round. However, the people in the abrupt change group who could not cheat during the first two rounds were much less willing to cheat big for $2.50 per problem during the final round (only about 30% did).”

In a related study with Max Bazerman, Gino discovered that, “people who played the role of auditors in a simulated auditing task were much less likely to report those who gradually inflated their numbers over time than those who made more abrupt changes all at once.”

Fortunately, there’s one solution to these slips, and it does not involve boring HR videos. In Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness, Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein write about how small changes in context—“nudges”— significantly affect behavior. My favorite example involves urinals. Researchers reduced spillage in some Amsterdam airport bathrooms by sticking a small plastic fly on the bottom on the urinal. It helps to have a target.

See full article by 250words.com

Nudge – Description

Nudge

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler

For fans of Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink and Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow, a revelatory new look at how we make decisions

More than 750,000 copies sold

New York Times bestseller
An Economist Best Book of the Year
Financial Times Best Book of the Year

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness is about choices—how we make them and how we can make better ones. Drawing on decades of research in the fields of behavioral science and economics, authors Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein offer a new perspective on preventing the countless mistakes we make—ill-advised personal investments, consumption of unhealthy foods, neglect of our natural resources—and show us how sensible “choice architecture” can successfully nudge people toward the best decisions. In the tradition of The Tipping Point and Freakonomics, Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness is straightforward, informative, and entertaining—a must-read for anyone interested in our individual and collective well-being.

Nudge – Review

“Fundamentally changes the way I think about the world. . . . Academics aren’t supposed to be able to write this well.” —Steven Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics

“[An] utterly brilliant book. . . . Nudge won’t nudge you-it will knock you off your feet.” —Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness is as important a book as any I’ve read in perhaps twenty years. It is a book that people interested in any aspect of public policy should read. It is a book that people interested in politics should read. It is a book that people interested in ideas about human freedom should read. It is a book that people interested in promoting human welfare should read. If you’re not interested in any of these topics, you can read something else.” —Barry Schwartz, The American Prospect

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness is terrific. It will change the way you think, not only about the world around you and some of its bigger problems, but also about yourself.” —Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball