Self-Serving Altruism? When Unethical Actions That Benefit Others Do Not Trigger Guilt

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Self-Serving Altruism? When Unethical Actions That Benefit Others Do Not Trigger Guilt

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Title: Self-Serving Altruism? When Unethical Actions That Benefit Others Do Not Trigger Guilt
Author: Gino, Francesca; Ayal, Shahar; Ariely, Dan

Note: Order does not necessarily reflect citation order of authors.

Citation: Gino, Francesca, Shahar Ayal, and Dan Ariely. "Self-Serving Altruism? When Unethical Actions That Benefit Others Do Not Trigger Guilt." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 13-028, September 2012.
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Abstract: In three experiments, we examine whether individuals cheat more when other individuals can benefit from their cheating (they do) and when the number of beneficiaries of wrongdoing is larger (they do). Our results indicate that people use moral flexibility in justifying their self-interested actions when such actions benefit others in addition to the self. Namely, our findings suggest that when others can benefit from one’s dishonesty people consider larger dishonesty as morally acceptable and thus can benefit from their cheating and simultaneously feel less guilty about it. We discuss the implications of these results for collaborations in the social realm.
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Open Access Policy Articles, as set forth at http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:dash.current.terms-of-use#OAP
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:9544595

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