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Why People Do Bad Things

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Why People Do Bad Things

Podcast

Why People Do Bad Things

Why People Do Bad Things

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/150815268/150844697" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Adam Cole
An illustration by Adam Cole.
Adam Cole

Traditionally, when we think about bad behavior, we think about character.

But psychologists who study bad behavior — who study, say, fraud in the business world — have found that that character doesn't explain everything. They've found that a lot of unethical behavior can be explained by cognitive errors — errors that affect almost everyone.

On today's show, we talk to a man who started out as an upstanding businessman, and went on to commit bank fraud involving millions of dollars. It drove several companies out of business and resulted in the loss of around a hundred jobs.

We try to figure out why he did it, and what it means for the rest of us.

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