First, you might accidentally take home a couple of pens from your office. Then the next thing you know, you’re printing off reams of documents for a side project and scooping up memo pads for stocking stuffers. You’re on a slippery slope — experiencing what behavioral ethicists call “incrementalism.”
Incrementalism happens in our daily lives when we do things like filch ever-growing quantities of office supplies. And we’ve seen it play out on a grand scale in news stories such as the Enron scandal and the Abu Ghraib prison abuses. “We slowly lose our ethical footing one step at a time,” McCombs Professor Robert Prentice says in the video series “Concepts Unwrapped,” a part of the Ethics Unwrapped project.
We’re highlighting segments of the series on Texas Enterprise; watch all the videos and “In It To Win,” a documentary on Jack Abramoff, at ethicsunwrapped.utexas.edu.