IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/hal/gemwpa/hal-00853900.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Cognitive control and socially desirable behavior: The role of interpersonal impact

Author

Listed:
  • Marko Pitesa

    () (MC - Management et Comportement - Grenoble École de Management (GEM))

  • Stefan Thau

    () (INSEAD - INSEAD)

  • Madan M. Pillutla

    () (LBS - London Business School - London Business School)

Abstract

Individuals' willingness to act in socially desirable ways, such as sharing resources with others and abiding by norms of ethical conduct, is a necessary condition of social life. The current research reconciles two seemingly contradicting sets of findings on the role of cognitive control in socially desirable behaviors. One set of findings suggests that people are tempted by self-serving impulses and have to rely on cognitive control overriding such impulses to act in socially desirable ways. Another set of findings suggests people are guided by other-regarding impulses and cognitive control is not necessary to motivate socially desirable behaviors. We provide a theoretical and empirical integration of these findings by identifying a key situational variable--the salience of interpersonal impact--that determines whether the dominant impulse is to behave in a self-serving or a socially desirable manner. We suggest that the dominant impulse is to behave in a socially desirable manner when the interpersonal impact of an action is salient, and that the dominant impulse is to behave in a self-serving manner when the interpersonal impact of an action is not salient. Consistent with this prediction, Studies 1-3 found that impairing participants' cognitive control led to less socially desirable behavior when interpersonal impact was not salient, but more socially desirable behavior when interpersonal impact was salient. Study 4 extended these findings by demonstrating that behaving in a socially desirable manner causes cognitive control impairment when interpersonal impact is not salient. But, when interpersonal impact is salient, behaving in a self-serving manner impairs cognitive control. We discuss the implications of our findings for understanding and managing socially desirable behaviors.

Suggested Citation

  • Marko Pitesa & Stefan Thau & Madan M. Pillutla, 2013. "Cognitive control and socially desirable behavior: The role of interpersonal impact," Working paper serie RMT - Grenoble Ecole de Management hal-00853900, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:gemwpa:hal-00853900
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: http://hal.grenoble-em.com/hal-00853900
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://hal.grenoble-em.com/hal-00853900/document
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. Jenni, Karen E & Loewenstein, George, 1997. "Explaining the "Identifiable Victim Effect."," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 235-257, May-June.
    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. Wiltermuth, Scott S. & Vincent, Lynne C. & Gino, Francesca, 2017. "Creativity in unethical behavior attenuates condemnation and breeds social contagion when transgressions seem to create little harm," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 139(C), pages 106-126.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    socially desirable behavior; cognitive control; impulses; cheating; resource distributions;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    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:hal:gemwpa:hal-00853900. 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: (CCSD). General contact details of provider: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/ .

    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.