What is it about?

The choice of words when warning people is important. For example, a previous study showed when people saw the reminder “Don’t be a cheater,” they conducted less cheating behaviors than when they saw “Don’t cheat” (Bryan et al., 2013). If this is real, it is amazing! But is this finding reproducible? Our study aims to directly replicate Bryan et al.’s experiment with a Japanese sample and further explores whether curbed cheating behavior is due to the saliency of the unfamiliar expression of instructions.

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Why is it important?

We will verify the reality of the power of words. Namely, the study examines the credibility of a phenomenon in which people change their ethical behavior greatly due to the nuances of instructional language. Thus, our findings would have implications not just for academic societies of psychology and linguistic researchers, but further afield to those who work with words --- such as copywriters, policy-makers and educators --- who use language to create messages that persuade people to modify their behaviors.


Language appears less powerful than actions, but it is possibly able to change the action itself. We hope that through our research people find how they say may have a profound impact on other's mind and then on their behaviors.

Dr. Yuki Yamada
Kyushu Daigaku

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This page is a summary of: Stage 1 Registered Report: How subtle linguistic cues prevent unethical behaviors, F1000Research, August 2019, Faculty of 1000, Ltd., DOI: 10.12688/f1000research.20183.1.
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