I am a social psychologist interested in when and why our ethical behavior sometimes falls short of our intentions (“bounded ethicality”). I am an associate professor of Management and Organizations at the Stern School of Business, New York University. Prior to becoming an academic, I worked for 11 years in the corporate world.

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Ethical Systems Interview (October 2015)

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My Approach to Ethical Systems:

The idea that we can be perfectly ethical and unbiased all of the time, as we imagine ourselves to be, is a myth. It is a unicorn-like idea. It is a beautiful and elegant notion, and we wish it were real, but it doesn’t exist outside of our own imaginations.

In other words, many of us care about being ethical, and consistently believe that we are ethical, yet ample evidence suggests that there is a significant gap between how we view our own ethicality and how ethically we actually behave. I study this gap, which my co-authors and I refer to as “bounded ethicality.”

Bounded ethicality specifically describes the role of automatic psychological processes that act as barriers to a more egalitarian and inclusive society. Implicit bias (also known as unconscious bias) is a well-known example. These barriers work in opposition to the aspirations we hold about justice, morality, and inclusion. We tend to assume these barriers will be visible, and reliance on this assumption can make social injustice—in the form of discrimination—quite likely. Understanding bounded ethicality can help us better understand how well-meaning people can produce organizations and societies that fall short of our ethical and egalitarian aspirations.

My Major Relevant Publications:



  • Chugh, D., Banaji, M., & Bazerman, M. (2005). Bounded Ethicality as a Psychological Barrier to Recognizing Conflicts of Interest. In Moore, D., Cain, D., Loewenstein, G., & Bazerman, M. (Eds.), Conflicts of Interest: Challenges and Solutions in Business, Law, Medicine, and Public Policy. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Chugh, D. (2004). Societal and Managerial Implications of Implicit Social Cognition: Why Milliseconds Matter. Social Justice Research, 17(2), 203-222.
  • Banaji, M., Bazerman, M., & Chugh, D. (2003). How (Un)Ethical Are You? Harvard Business Review81(12), 56-64.