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.
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:
- Lucas, B., Berry, Z., Giurge, L., and Chugh, D. (2021). A Longer Shortlist Increases the Consideration of Female Candidates in Male-Dominant Domains. Nature Human Behavior.
- Chang, E., Milkman, K., Chugh, D., and Akinola, M. (2019). Diversity Thresholds: How Social Norms, Visibility, and Scrutiny Relate to Group Composition. Academy of Management Journal, 62(1), 144-171.
- Chugh, D. & Kern, M.C. (2016). A Dynamic and Cyclical Model of Bounded Ethicality. Research in Organizational Behavior, 36.
- Tenbrunsel, A. & Chugh, D. (2015). Behavioral Ethics: A Story of Increased Breadth and Depth (PDF)→. Current Opinions in Psychology, 6, 205-210.
- Milkman, K.L., Akinola, M., & Chugh, D. (2015). What Happens Before? A Field Experiment Exploring How Pay and Representation Differentially Shape Bias on the Pathway Into Organizations. Journal of Applied Psychology.
- Desai, S., Chugh, D., & Brief, A. “The organizational implications of a traditional marriage: Can a domestic traditionalist by night be an organizational egalitarian by day?” Administrative Science Quarterly.
- Chugh, D., Kern, M.C., Zhu, Z., & Lee, S. (2013). “Withstanding Moral Disengagement: Attachment Security as an Ethical Intervention.” Journal of Experimental Psychology.
- Milkman, K.L., Akinola, M., & Chugh, D. (2012). “Temporal Distance and Discrimination: An Audit Study in Academia.” Psychological Science. 20(10), 1-8.
- Kern, M. and Chugh, D. (2009). Bounded ethicality: The perils of loss framing. Psychological Science, 20(3), 378-384.
- Chugh, D. and Brief, A. (2008). 1964 was not that long ago: A Story of Gateways and Pathways. In Brief, A. (Ed.), Diversity at work. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
- Bazerman, M. & Chugh, D. (2006). Decisions without Blinders. Harvard Business Review, 84(1), 88-97. [Please email for copy]
- Bertrand, M., Chugh, D., & Mullainathan, S. (2005). Implicit Discrimination. American Economic Review, 95 (2), 94-98.
- 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 Review, 81(12), 56-64.