Mis-Nudging Morality

Coby Morvinski, Silvia Saccardo, On Amir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Morals constrain self-serving behavior. Yet, self-regulation failures in the face of monetary temptation are common at the workplace. To limit such failures, organizations can design environments that limit the temptation to behave self-servingly, nudging workers to uphold their morals. In a series of experiments where participants may be tempted to take excessive pay after exerting effort, we study whether a simple intervention—asking individuals to state the wage they believe should be paid ex ante, before facing the temptation to take excessive compensation—prevents self-serving behavior. In contrast to lay beliefs and the predictions from prior work, we find that such an intervention is not effective, leading to self-serving behavior. However, a more realistic elicitation procedure of the appropriate wage mitigates this effect. These findings contribute to work on the malleability of moral behavior showing that simple interventions thought to effectively mitigate self-serving behavior can prompt individuals to stretch their moral boundaries. They also stress the importance of properly testing interventions that might seem intuitive.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)464-474
Number of pages11
JournalManagement Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2023


  • morals
  • nudges
  • self-serving behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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