Why do moral values ​​spoil

Moral Hazard: Morals and ethics in the job

For the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, morals and ethics were very simple: “If it's wrong, don't do it; if it's untruth, don't say it. " It could all be so easy, but it isn't. Especially not in everyday life. People like to act, manipulate or exploit in their own favor. The concept of Moral hazard comes from insurance and economics, but can be applied to many different areas. It explains why people often behave immorally when given the opportunity. This is particularly perfidious because everyone likes to swing the moral club, but are convicted by moral hazard themselves….

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Definition: what is moral hazard?

The term arose Moral hazard in the insurance sector and was initially transferred from there to economics and microeconomics. In German, moral hazard is also referred to as moral risk or moral venture. According to the definition from economics, moral hazard is opportunistic behavior due to information asymmetry - which sounds more complicated than it actually is.

Moral hazard occurs when someone not even the consequences must bear for his actions. You do not harm yourself through your own misconduct or carelessness, but damage a contractual partner, the community or another outsider.

The classic example is an insurance problem: Owners of a fully comprehensive policy drive riskier because a possible harm 100 percent regulated by the insurance company anyway.

In other words, moral hazard explains why people behave immorallywhen the consequences of one's own actions can be passed on to a collective. Or if you tell yourself that nobody would suffer from your immorality.

Examples of moral hazard

On closer inspection, it quickly becomes apparent that moral hazard has long since occurred not only in insurance, but is also evident in all areas and can also play a role in everyday life. The workplace is no exception, but a real arena for a lack of morality and unethical behavior.

  • Moral hazard among civil servants

    Anyone waiting for an answer from an authority usually has to be patient. This is partly a generalization and a prejudice, of course, but according to the concept of moral hazard it is assumed that civil servants are less willing to perform because they are in a permanent position. You don't have to fear for your job if you work slower or less - a prime example of moral hazard.

  • Moral hazard among bankers

    Not only civil servants, but also bankers are not always that particular about morality. For example, stock traders in a bank can tend to invest and speculate particularly risky. After all, in an emergency, the employer or the investor is liable and the financial consequences do not have to be borne by oneself.

  • Moral hazard in the job

    But even regardless of occupational groups, moral hazard is often evident in the job. This can be observed in larger teams, in which individual employees like to hide in order to rest on the achievements of others. This is also known as the Ringelmann effect. If the boss cannot control the performance of individuals, immoral behavior is encouraged: You perform significantly less than others, find excuses not to have to do difficult tasks, or reap other people's laurels to which you are not entitled.

  • Moral hazard in finance

    Money and finance are a difficult subject - both on a small scale and in the international economy. Moral hazard also arises here when people, companies or even countries take a great risk because they assume that they will be helped in the event of difficulties. Perhaps the parents have enough money to help children or there is a rescue package for large corporations or entire countries so that they do not go bankrupt.

Morals and Ethics: How the Job Affects Our Values

Morals and ethics set standards of behavior in a society. The morality is the Moral concepts from which a code of conduct is derived that regulates interaction within a social group. Morality dictates what is socially acceptable and what limits must not be exceeded.

Ethics, on the other hand, is above morality. It is not tied to good social morals, but always applies. Those who act ethically act according to values ​​that are independent of the state or culture. Rather, it is norms and maxims of one's own way of life that are derived from responsibility towards other people (I will not steal, I will not kill ...)

Moral and ethical ideas are shaped by society and, of course, largely by the environment of family and friends. However, the job as an important and large part of life also plays a major role in this.

The job, the company culture, the values ​​of the colleagues, the behavior of the boss - sooner or later all of these interactions are carried over to the Character of a man. And not always for the better. Lies, fraud, theft, smeared customers, betrayed colleagues ... in the work environment, success is often the only thing that counts - regardless of the means.

Social scientists know today: the stronger a person is identified with his professionthe faster it adapts to the customs of the company or the industry.

In order to be respected, praised and liked by colleagues and the boss, over time some people cross boundaries that were previously set for them Scruples and decency would have been impassable.

  • Sell ​​the colleague's idea as your own? "It's your own fault, he should have been faster!"
  • Withhold the current problems of the product from the customer? "Hey, he didn't ask for it either!"
  • Pay bribes to get the job? "So what, everyone does!"

Anyone who regularly comes into contact with such patterns of thinking and behavior on the job, adopts them and develops new moral ideas - at least on the job. The fact is therefore: It is not just money that spoils it character, the job can do the same.

Often only the thoughts change first, then the operational interface: the gestures, the clothes, the language, sometimes even the circle of friends. Then the boundaries shift: What others think is okay can't be that bad. And the more participatethe more the responsibility shifts from the individual to the group. You no longer feel responsible for the immoral behavior and diligently participate in accordance with the moral hazard.

Exciting facts about morals and ethics

Scientists regularly deal with the behavior of people and have uncovered numerous findings and connections to morality. Some studies provide exciting and interesting results in which you may recognize yourself:

  • Tired and early risers cheat more in the evening

    One would think that there is no connection between our physical energy and ethical behavior. Especially not when it comes to the influence of the time of day. Not correct! As researchers at the Walter Reed Institute and the University of Washington have shown, well rested people make more moral decisions than tired ones.

    Or to put it another way: Just as our attention and creativity follow the so-called circadian rhythms throughout the day, so too does our morality. The simple explanation: When we lose weight, we are more prone to temptation because it weakens our self-control. And so it can also happen that a person who sets high moral standards for himself and his environment in the morning sees a lot of it more loosely in the evening.

  • Hand on heart actually makes you more honest

    Whoever swears an oath places his right hand on his chest and heart. The gesture is an expression of sincerity - you praise something in your life ... and it works! Researchers from the Warsaw School of Social Sciences completed several experiments and found that those who put their hands on their hearts actually behaved more honestly.

    The psychologists are convinced that the ritual not only expresses sincerity, but also triggers - or as they would put it in technical jargon: the gesture can do us prime. So if you want an honest assessment of someone, you could ask them to put their hands on your heart beforehand. This may look silly, but it serves the purpose.

  • Having a lot of space in the office is bad for morale

    Perhaps you are annoyed that the colleague or boss has a larger office. Comfort yourself: it's better for your morale this way. As researchers at the University of California have shown, people who sit in a large (single) office and in a wide chair tend to cheat on others.

    However, the fault is not so much the large amount of space and the spatial expanse, but rather what these trigger psychologically: people living in large spaces promptly feel more powerful than they are - and power, as is well known, spoils character.

  • We tend to cheat in the dark

    Light and dark have always been strong symbols of good and bad. As it stands, they also affect a person's morale. Scientists from Harvard Business School found that people are more likely to tell the truth or even cheat when it is dark in a room.

    Perceived lighting conditions can also be tell-tale. Again, as noted at the University of Kansas, ethical people see rooms brighter.

  • Creative people cheat more often

    Who wouldn't want to be a creative? Always new thoughts, always original solutions, always fresh ideas ... a great image. But it also has its downsides: Those whose minds often flash, unfortunately, also tend to cheat more, as Francesca Gino from Harvard University together with the renowned behavioral economist Dan Ariely from Duke University was able to demonstrate.

    To the surprise of the scientists, there was no connection between dishonesty and intelligence - but there was a strong correlation between creativity and dishonesty: the more creative the test subjects were, the more likely they were to cheat in the tests. Probably because they were just able to do better because of their creativity.

Overcoming moral hazard: is it possible?

Greed for more and more is probably the greatest temptation when it comes to immoral behavior. It is reinforced by envy and constant comparison with others.

In order to gain one's own advantage, to become richer, more powerful or more famous, moral boundaries are shifting and conversions are increasing. The psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud already recognized: Those who are greedy become slaves of an instinct that switches off the mind. And with the mind, morals and ethics are lost.

The good news: there is Possibilities and waysto combat moral hazard and re-establish adherence to moral principles:

  • Control and sanctions

    Moral hazard can be resolved by controlling the behavior more closely and, if necessary, sanctioning it with penalties. Managers could, for example, require regular interim reports from employees or carry out better control through precise timekeeping.

  • Encouragement and rewards

    The opposite also helps against moral hazard: Those who offer incentives for correct and moral behavior take advantage of opportunistic behavior. Insurance companies do this, for example, by reducing costs if no damage is reported over a long period of time. In the job, for example, performance bonuses can be paid if certain goals are achieved.

  • Exchange and reflection

    Anyone who only moves in the orbit of their colleagues remains in a kind of cheese dome, which makes you immune to doubts and criticism. There is no objective assessment from the outside, a mirror that grounds again and straightens the priorities. Important impulses come, for example, from mentors, friends, family or acquaintances in sports or another hobby. Here moral concerns can be classified and reevaluated largely neutrally.

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September 1, 2020Author: Jochen Mai

Jochen Mai is the founder and editor-in-chief of the career bible. The author of several books lectures at the TH Köln and is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach and consultant.

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