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

17 Pages Posted: 10 Jan 2002 Last revised: 8 Aug 2016

See all articles by Harvey S. James, Jr.

Harvey S. James, Jr.

University of Missouri at Columbia - Division of Applied Social Sciences

Jeffrey Cohen

University of Connecticut - School of Business

Date Written: December 1, 2001

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.

Keywords: Prisoner's dilemma game, experimental game theory, impact of ethics training

JEL Classification: A20, C72, C91

Suggested Citation

James, Harvey S. and Cohen, Jeffrey, Does Ethics Training Neutralize the Incentives of the Prisoner's Dilemma? Evidence from a Classroom Experiment (December 1, 2001). Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 50, No. 1, 2004, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=296134 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.296134

Harvey S. James (Contact Author)

University of Missouri at Columbia - Division of Applied Social Sciences ( email )

Columbia, MO
United States
573-884-9682 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://hsjames2.wordpress.com

Jeffrey Cohen

University of Connecticut - School of Business ( email )

368 Fairfield Road
Storrs, CT 06269-2041
United States

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