Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Punishing deception and rewarding honesty
by Wang, Cynthia S., Ph.D., Northwestern University, 2007, 146; 3278063
Abstract (Summary)

Encouraging honest behavior and discouraging deceptive behavior has become a very important issue with respect to ethics and moral behavior in the workplace. As such, a critical practical and theoretical goal has been to directly study the likelihood of individuals punishing deception and rewarding honesty. The growing assumption within the economic (Abbink, Irlenbusch, & Renner, 2000; Brandts & Charness, 2003; cf. Fehr & Gachter, 2000b; Offerman, 2002) and psychology literatures (Baumeister, Bratslavsky, Finkenauer, & Vohs, 2001; Cacioppo & Gardner, 1999; Rozin & Royzman, 2001) is that deception is punished more than honesty is rewarded. In contrast, my dissertation, drawing a theoretical foundation from the extant literature on the norm of reciprocity (Gouldner, 1960) and felt obligation (Cialdini, 1984; Eisenberger, Huntington, Hutchison, & Sowa, 1986; Pillutla, Malhotra, & Murnighan, 2003; Tesser, Gatewood, & Driver, 1968), suggests that honesty may be rewarded more than deception is punished. This paper investigates responses to deception and honesty in three ways: (1) comparing how deception is punished versus how honesty is rewarded in terms of frequency and intensity, (2) understanding how two fundamental factors, monetary costs and cultural influences, affect the frequency and intensity of punishments and rewards, and (3) understanding subsequent unethical behavior in an unrelated context after experiencing deception or honesty. I also propose a model outlining the underlying psychological processes motivating responses to deception and honesty in interpersonal situations. Results indicate that the punishment of deception and the reward of honesty arise from two distinct psychological mechanisms, with negative emotions driving punishments and trust driving both felt obligation to reciprocate and rewards. The implications for social psychological, economic, and organizational theories and the practical implications for developing policies that promote ethical behavior within the workplace are discussed.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Murnighan, Keith
Commitee: Austen-Smith, David, Galinsky, Adam, Phillips, Katherine
School: Northwestern University
Department: Management and Organizations
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 68/09, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Management
Keywords: Deception, Ethical decision-making, Honesty, Punishments, Reward, Rewards
Publication Number: 3278063
ISBN: 9780549220367
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