Sa-OR-S131-3 - A Suspicious Mindset At Work: The Moderating Effect Of Cues Of Untrustworthiness And Victim Sensitivity On Unethical Pro-Organizational Behavior

Ethical issues in Organizational Psychology
Oral Presentation
Part of:
15 minutes
Ethics and Sustainability
Ethical issues in Organizational Psychology
A suspicious mindset at work: The moderating effect of cues of untrustworthiness and victim sensitivity on unethical pro-organizational behavior
C. Baur 1 2,*, R. Souček 3, G. Möllering 4
1Department of Work and Organizational Psychology, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, 2Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences (BIGSSS), Jacobs University Bremen, Bremen, 3Department of Organizational and Social Psychology , Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Nuremberg, 4Reinhard-Mohn-Institut für Unternehmensführung, Universität Witten/Herdecke, Witten, Germany
Content: Purpose. Recent scandals such as the Volkswagen emission scandal show that unethical acts carried out to potentially benefit an organization in the short term may in fact seriously harm the organization in the long run. Despite the considerable practical and societal importance, so far not enough is known about the psychological factors underlying this specific type of unethical behavior. Drawing on the Sensitivity to Mean Intentions (SeMI) model proposed by Gollwitzer and Rothmund this paper investigates the effect of a suspicious mindset on unethical pro-organizational behavior. Specifically, we predicted a differing effect of cues of untrustworthiness on unethical pro-organizational behavior, depending on the individual’s level of sensitivity towards mean intentions of others (victim sensitivity).
Design/Methodology. Following an initial study with a student sample (N = 69), we conducted and a second experimental study with employees (N = 130). The organizational context was simulated and cues of untrustworthiness were manipulated by showing participants pictures of colleagues who differed in the extent to which their facial appearances were either trustworthy or untrustworthy.
Results. The results suggest that an activated suspicious mindset influences unethical pro-organizational behavior. As predicted, the findings revealed a significant interaction effect of cues of untrustworthiness and victim sensitivity on unethical pro-organizational behavior.
Limitations. Future research should investigate different kinds of situational cues associated with untrustworthiness both in experiments and field studies.
Research/Practical Implications. Our findings indicate that organizations need to be aware that people differ in terms of their sensitivity towards becoming a victim and should be alerted to the potentially negative effects of environmental or social cues associated with untrustworthiness.
Originality/Value. To our knowledge, this study is the first to empirically analyze the effect of a suspicious mindset on unethical pro-organizational behavior, and it contributes to a refined understanding of the relationship between trustworthiness and unethical behavior at work.

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