Isaac Smith, a PhD student in Management at the David Eccles School of Business, co-authored some research being published this week in Psychological Science that indicates that people makes less ethical decisions the later in the day it gets. It’s really interesting stuff, and he co-wrote the study with Maryam Kouchaki, who got her PhD here at the business school, and who now is at Harvard’s Edward J. Safra Center for Ethics.

The study is landing Isaac on local TV and in some national websites–look for him on Fox 13 and ABC’s affiliate on Channel 4 tonight!

And you can read a bit about the paper right here, via the press release the journal put out to the world today:

Our ability to exhibit self-control to avoid cheating or lying is significantly reduced over the course of a day, making us more likely to be dishonest in the afternoon than in the morning, according to findings published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

“As ethics researchers, we had been running experiments examining various unethical behaviors, such as lying, stealing, and cheating,” researchers Maryam Kouchaki of Harvard University and Isaac Smith of the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business explain. “We noticed that experiments conducted in the morning seemed to systematically result in lower instances of unethical behavior.”

This led the researchers to wonder: Is it easier to resist opportunities to lie, cheat, steal, and engage in other unethical behavior in the morning than in the afternoon?

In doing this research, they recognized that self-control can be depleted from a lack of rest and from making repeated decisions. They also wanted to examine whether normal activities during the day would be enough to deplete self-control and increase dishonest behavior.

In two experiments, college-age participants were shown various patterns of dots on a computer. For each pattern, they were asked to identify whether more dots were displayed on the left or right side of the screen. Importantly, participants were not given money for getting correct</