Jonathan Rusch on Behavioral Science and Compliance [Podcast]


By Adam Turteltaub

Is it a few bad apples?  A whole barrel full of them?  Or is it the barrel that’s the problem, and not the apples?

It’s a long-debated topic in ethics and compliance, and Jonathan Rusch, Principal of DTG Risk & Compliance LLC, argues that there is much that can be answered in a growing body of behavioral science.

His interest in the topic began while serving as a federal prosecutor, where he noticed that many fraud victims were behaving in ways that were unexpected but explainable by social scientists.  Later, when he became an in-house compliance officer, he found this same research was useful at uncovering the mental shortcuts and other mistakes that led to bad behaviors.  These included:

  • The bystander effect, in which an individual sees something that seems wrong, but with no one else saying speaking up, the individual assumes that maybe he or she was the one who was wrong
  • Context confusion, a problem in which a person assumes the other side of the deal is thinking along similar lines with shared goals when, in fact, that person has very different and potentially illegal objectives
  • Ethical fading, in which ethics issues start being redefined as simply business concerns

Listen in to the discussion, and start exploring how behavioral science might change the way you approach compliance and ethics challenges.