Stage 2 Registered Report: How subtle linguistic cues prevent unethical behaviors

Yuki Yamada, Wen Guo, Huanxu Liu, Jingwen Yang, Yuqi Mo, Can Zhong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Differences in descriptions can influence people's evaluations and behaviors. A previous study by Bryan and colleagues suggested that subtle linguistic differences in ethical reminders can differentially prevent readers' unethical behavior. The present study tried to replicate the previous finding in the Japanese context (Experiment 1); additionally, we explored the influence of unfamiliar Japanese instruction words that captured participants' attention (Experiment 2). Methods: In two online experiments, participants were asked to make 10 coin-tosses and report the number of "heads" results, which would indicate the amount of money that they could earn. In Experiment 1, we analyzed the difference in the number of "heads" results as reported by 768 participants under three conditions with different instructions ("Don't cheat" vs. "Don't be a cheater" vs. baseline as a control). In Experiment 2, we conducted an extended experiment with an additional task in which more attention was directed toward the text. Results: In Experiment 1, we successfully replicated the results of the original experiment. The results of Experiment 2 showed no evidence that the results in Experiment 1 were influenced by attentional factors. Conclusions: In conclusion, the results of the present study supported the hypothesis that self-identity-related words of moral reminder curb unethical behaviors more effectively. Stage 1 report:

Original languageEnglish
Article number996
Publication statusPublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


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