The fudge factor theory


Brett and Kate McKay on how small choices can strengthen or weaken integrity:

The “fudge factor theory” explains how we decide where to draw the line between “okay,” and “not okay,” between decisions that make us feel guilty and those we find a way to confidently justify. The more we’re able to rationalize our decisions as morally acceptable, the wider this fudge factor margin becomes. And most of us are highly adept at it: Everyone else is doing it. This just levels the playing field. They’re such a huge company that this won’t affect them at all. They don’t pay me enough anyway. He owes me this. She cheated on me once too. If I don’t, my future will be ruined.

Where you draw the line and how wide you allow your fudge factor margin to become is influenced by a variety of external and internal conditions, the most important one being this: simply taking a first, however small, dishonest step.

There's been a lot on my mind at work, and I needed to read this. It made me feel a lot better about my choices. Even the small inconsequential decisions may have much more sway over us that we know.

Ramkumar Shankar