IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/jobhdp/v115y2011i2p191-203.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Unable to resist temptation: How self-control depletion promotes unethical behavior

Author

Listed:
  • Gino, Francesca
  • Schweitzer, Maurice E.
  • Mead, Nicole L.
  • Ariely, Dan

Abstract

Across four experimental studies, individuals who were depleted of their self-regulatory resources by an initial act of self-control were more likely to "impulsively cheat" than individuals whose self-regulatory resources were intact. Our results demonstrate that individuals depleted of self-control resources were more likely to behave dishonestly (Study 1). Depletion reduced people's moral awareness when they faced the opportunity to cheat, which, in turn, was responsible for heightened cheating (Study 2). Individuals high in moral identity, however, did not show elevated levels of cheating when they were depleted (Study 3), supporting our hypothesis that self-control depletion increases cheating when it robs people of the executive resources necessary to identify an act as immoral or unethical. Our results also show that resisting unethical behavior both requires and depletes self-control resources (Study 4). Taken together, our findings help to explain how otherwise ethical individuals predictably engage in unethical behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Gino, Francesca & Schweitzer, Maurice E. & Mead, Nicole L. & Ariely, Dan, 2011. "Unable to resist temptation: How self-control depletion promotes unethical behavior," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 115(2), pages 191-203, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jobhdp:v:115:y:2011:i:2:p:191-203
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0749597811000422
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Loewenstein, George, 1996. "Out of Control: Visceral Influences on Behavior," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 272-292, March.
    2. Maurice Schweitzer & Donald Gibson, 2008. "Fairness, Feelings, and Ethical Decision- Making: Consequences of Violating Community Standards of Fairness," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 77(3), pages 287-301, February.
    3. Gino, Francesca & Pierce, Lamar, 2009. "The abundance effect: Unethical behavior in the presence of wealth," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 109(2), pages 142-155, July.
    4. Mead, N.L. & Baumeister, R.F. & Gino, F. & Schweitzer, M.E. & Ariely, D., 2009. "Too tired to tell the truth : Self-control resource depletion and dishonesty," Other publications TiSEM c60167a3-c3aa-4b83-9192-1, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    5. Street, Marc D. & Douglas, Scott C. & Geiger, Scott W. & Martinko, Mark J., 2001. "The Impact of Cognitive Expenditure on the Ethical Decision-Making Process: The Cognitive Elaboration Model," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 86(2), pages 256-277, November.
    6. Philippe Robert-Demontrond & R. Ringoot, 2004. "Introduction," Post-Print halshs-00081823, HAL.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Kanfer, Ruth & Chen, Gilad, 2016. "Motivation in organizational behavior: History, advances and prospects," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 136(C), pages 6-19.
    2. repec:eee:jeborg:v:145:y:2018:i:c:p:80-94 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Gill, David & Prowse, Victoria & Vlassopoulos, Michael, 2013. "Cheating in the workplace: An experimental study of the impact of bonuses and productivity," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 120-134.
    4. Yam, Kai Chi & Chen, Xiao-Ping & Reynolds, Scott J., 2014. "Ego depletion and its paradoxical effects on ethical decision making," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 124(2), pages 204-214.
    5. Yip, Jeremy A. & Schweitzer, Maurice E., 2016. "Mad and misleading: Incidental anger promotes deception," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 137(C), pages 207-217.
    6. Gino, Francesca & Ayal, Shahar & Ariely, Dan, 2013. "Self-serving altruism? The lure of unethical actions that benefit others," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 285-292.
    7. Vriend, Tim & Jordan, Jennifer & Janssen, Onne, 2016. "Reaching the top and avoiding the bottom: How ranking motivates unethical intentions and behavior," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 137(C), pages 142-155.
    8. Pitesa, Marko & Thau, Stefan & Pillutla, Madan M., 2013. "Cognitive control and socially desirable behavior: The role of interpersonal impact," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 122(2), pages 232-243.
    9. Yam, Kai Chi & Reynolds, Scott J. & Hirsh, Jacob B., 2014. "The hungry thief: Physiological deprivation and its effects on unethical behavior," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 125(2), pages 123-133.
    10. Welsh, David T. & Ordóñez, Lisa D., 2014. "The dark side of consecutive high performance goals: Linking goal setting, depletion, and unethical behavior," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 123(2), pages 79-89.
    11. repec:eee:jeborg:v:146:y:2018:i:c:p:31-42 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. repec:eee:advacc:v:36:y:2017:i:c:p:1-10 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Hershfield, Hal E. & Cohen, Taya R. & Thompson, Leigh, 2012. "Short horizons and tempting situations: Lack of continuity to our future selves leads to unethical decision making and behavior," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 117(2), pages 298-310.
    14. Brockner, Joel & Wiesenfeld, Batia M., 2016. "Self-as-object and self-as-subject in the workplace," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 136(C), pages 36-46.
    15. Mitkidis, Panagiotis & Ayal, Shahar & Shalvi, Shaul & Heimann, Katrin & Levy, Gabriel & Kyselo, Miriam & Wallot, Sebastian & Ariely, Dan & Roepstorff, Andreas, 2017. "The effects of extreme rituals on moral behavior: The performers-observers gap hypothesis," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 1-7.
    16. Paharia, Neeru & Vohs, Kathleen D. & Deshpandé, Rohit, 2013. "Sweatshop labor is wrong unless the shoes are cute: Cognition can both help and hurt moral motivated reasoning," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 121(1), pages 81-88.
    17. Friehe, Tim & Schildberg-Hörisch, Hannah, 2017. "Self-control and crime revisited: Disentangling the effect of self-control on risk taking and antisocial behavior," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 23-32.
    18. Hildreth, John Angus D. & Gino, Francesca & Bazerman, Max, 2016. "Blind loyalty? When group loyalty makes us see evil or engage in it," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 16-36.
    19. Pettit, Nathan C. & Doyle, Sarah P. & Lount, Robert B. & To, Christopher, 2016. "Cheating to get ahead or to avoid falling behind? The effect of potential negative versus positive status change on unethical behavior," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 137(C), pages 172-183.
    20. Mulder, Laetitia B. & Jordan, Jennifer & Rink, Floor, 2015. "The effect of specific and general rules on ethical decisions," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 115-129.
    21. repec:eee:jbrese:v:81:y:2017:i:c:p:70-79 is not listed on IDEAS
    22. Lanaj, Klodiana & Johnson, Russell E. & Barnes, Christopher M., 2014. "Beginning the workday yet already depleted? Consequences of late-night smartphone use and sleep," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 124(1), pages 11-23.
    23. Palma, Marco & Segovia, Michelle & Kassas, Bachir & Ribera, Luis & Hall, Charles, 2016. "The Effects of Self-Control on Subsequent Purchasing Decisions," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, 2016, Boston, Massachusetts 235987, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    24. Winterich, Karen Page & Mittal, Vikas & Morales, Andrea C., 2014. "Protect thyself: How affective self-protection increases self-interested, unethical behavior," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 125(2), pages 151-161.
    25. Gneezy, Uri & Rockenbach, Bettina & Serra-Garcia, Marta, 2013. "Measuring lying aversion," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 293-300.

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jobhdp:v:115:y:2011:i:2:p:191-203. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/obhdp .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.