The motivation and inhibition of breaking the rules: Personal values structures predict unethicality

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Abstract

We theorized and tested the relationship of personal value systems with unethical attitudes and behavior. Results from three studies using 16 diverse multi-national samples (N= 107,087) demonstrated the complexity of motivations underlying unethicality. Across contexts and cultures, for attitudes (Study 1 meta-analysis) and behaviors in the lab (Study 2) and in real-life (Study 3), we consistently found that the values theory circumplex structure predicted the inhibition and motivation of unethicality. Unethicality was positively associated with self-enhancement values and negatively associated with self-transcendence and conservation values. However, self-transcendence and conservation values were associated with the inhibition of different types of unethicality. The relationship of openness-to-change values with unethicality was generally positive but the effect size varied depending on context.

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Feldman, G., Chao, M. M., Farh, J. L., & Bardi, A. (2015). The motivation and inhibition of breaking the rules: Personal values structures predict unethicality. Journal of Research in Personality, 59, 69–80. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrp.2015.09.003

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