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Using Machine Learning to Generate Novel Hypotheses: Increasing Optimism About COVID-19 Makes People Less Willing to Justify Unethical Behaviors.
Psychol Sci. 2020 10; 31(10):1222-1235.PS

Abstract

How can we nudge people to not engage in unethical behaviors, such as hoarding and violating social-distancing guidelines, during the COVID-19 pandemic? Because past research on antecedents of unethical behavior has not provided a clear answer, we turned to machine learning to generate novel hypotheses. We trained a deep-learning model to predict whether or not World Values Survey respondents perceived unethical behaviors as justifiable, on the basis of their responses to 708 other items. The model identified optimism about the future of humanity as one of the top predictors of unethicality. A preregistered correlational study (N = 218 U.S. residents) conceptually replicated this finding. A preregistered experiment (N = 294 U.S. residents) provided causal support: Participants who read a scenario conveying optimism about the COVID-19 pandemic were less willing to justify hoarding and violating social-distancing guidelines than participants who read a scenario conveying pessimism. The findings suggest that optimism can help reduce unethicality, and they document the utility of machine-learning methods for generating novel hypotheses.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Nanyang Business School, Nanyang Technological University.Department of Organization and Human Resources, Business School, Renmin University of China.Nanyang Business School, Nanyang Technological University.

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article

Language

eng

PubMed ID

32926807

Citation

Sheetal, Abhishek, et al. "Using Machine Learning to Generate Novel Hypotheses: Increasing Optimism About COVID-19 Makes People Less Willing to Justify Unethical Behaviors." Psychological Science, vol. 31, no. 10, 2020, pp. 1222-1235.
Sheetal A, Feng Z, Savani K. Using Machine Learning to Generate Novel Hypotheses: Increasing Optimism About COVID-19 Makes People Less Willing to Justify Unethical Behaviors. Psychol Sci. 2020;31(10):1222-1235.
Sheetal, A., Feng, Z., & Savani, K. (2020). Using Machine Learning to Generate Novel Hypotheses: Increasing Optimism About COVID-19 Makes People Less Willing to Justify Unethical Behaviors. Psychological Science, 31(10), 1222-1235. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797620959594
Sheetal A, Feng Z, Savani K. Using Machine Learning to Generate Novel Hypotheses: Increasing Optimism About COVID-19 Makes People Less Willing to Justify Unethical Behaviors. Psychol Sci. 2020;31(10):1222-1235. PubMed PMID: 32926807.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Using Machine Learning to Generate Novel Hypotheses: Increasing Optimism About COVID-19 Makes People Less Willing to Justify Unethical Behaviors. AU - Sheetal,Abhishek, AU - Feng,Zhiyu, AU - Savani,Krishna, Y1 - 2020/09/14/ PY - 2020/9/15/pubmed PY - 2020/10/27/medline PY - 2020/9/14/entrez KW - COVID-19 KW - machine learning KW - neural network KW - open data KW - open materials KW - optimism KW - preregistered KW - unethical behavior SP - 1222 EP - 1235 JF - Psychological science JO - Psychol Sci VL - 31 IS - 10 N2 - How can we nudge people to not engage in unethical behaviors, such as hoarding and violating social-distancing guidelines, during the COVID-19 pandemic? Because past research on antecedents of unethical behavior has not provided a clear answer, we turned to machine learning to generate novel hypotheses. We trained a deep-learning model to predict whether or not World Values Survey respondents perceived unethical behaviors as justifiable, on the basis of their responses to 708 other items. The model identified optimism about the future of humanity as one of the top predictors of unethicality. A preregistered correlational study (N = 218 U.S. residents) conceptually replicated this finding. A preregistered experiment (N = 294 U.S. residents) provided causal support: Participants who read a scenario conveying optimism about the COVID-19 pandemic were less willing to justify hoarding and violating social-distancing guidelines than participants who read a scenario conveying pessimism. The findings suggest that optimism can help reduce unethicality, and they document the utility of machine-learning methods for generating novel hypotheses. SN - 1467-9280 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/32926807/Using_Machine_Learning_to_Generate_Novel_Hypotheses:_Increasing_Optimism_About_COVID_19_Makes_People_Less_Willing_to_Justify_Unethical_Behaviors_ L2 - https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0956797620959594?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori:rid:crossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub=pubmed DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -