Volume 3, 2007
Controversies in International Corporate Responsibility
Daylian M. Cain, George Loewenstein, Don A. Moore
The Dirt on Coming Clean
Perverse Effects of Disclosing Conflicts of Interest
Conflicts of interest can lead experts to give biased and corrupt advice. Although disclosure is often proposed as a potential solution to these problems, we show that it can have perverse effects. First, people generally do not discount advice from biased advisors as much as they should, even when advisors’ conflicts of interest are disclosed. Second, disclosure can increase the bias in advice because it leads advisors to feel morally licensed and strategically encouraged to exaggerate their advice even further. As a result, disclosure may fail to solve the problems created by conflicts of interest and may sometimes even make matters worse.