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Friday, August 14, 2020

Four Ways to Avoid the Pitfalls of Motivated Moral Reasoning

Notre Dame
Deloitte Center for Ethical Leadership

Here is an excerpt:

Four Ways to Control Motivated Reasoning

Motivated reasoning happens all the time, and we can never fully eradicate it. But we can recognize it and guard against its worst effects. Use these guidelines as a way to help quiet your inner lawyer and access your inner judge.

Use the "Front Page" Test

Studies have shown that when we expect our decisions to be made public we are more circumspect. Ask yourself, "Would I be comfortable having this choice published on the front page of a local newspaper?" Doing so provides an opportunity to step back from the conditions that may induce motivated reasoning and engage in more critical thinking.

Don’t Go It Alone

While it is difficult to notice motivated reasoning in ourselves, we can much more easily recognize it in others. Surround yourself with the voices of those you trust, and make sure you’re prepared to listen and acknowledge your limitations. You can even make it someone's job to voice dissent. If you're surrounded only by "yes men" it can be all too easy for motivated reasoning to take over.

Avoid Ambiguity

Motivated reasoning becomes more likely when the rules are fuzzy or vague. Rely on accepted standards and definitions of ethical behavior, and make sure that your principles are clear enough for employees to understand what they mean in practice. In ethics training, make sure to use scenarios and stories to show what ethical behavior looks like. If your values or principles are too general, they may provide convenient justifications for unethical behavior instead of guarding against it.

Stay Humble

In addition to intelligence tests, research suggests that we’re touchy about receiving any feedback we don’t agree with. One study found that when participants received negative feedback about their leadership qualities they were likely to use racial stereotypes to dismiss the person giving the feedback. The next time you receive feedback you’d rather ignore, slow down, pay attention, and consider how the feedback could help you grow as a person and as a leader.