Recession’s after-effects could lead to cheating and workplace theft: Study
Toronto – When people feel financially deprived, as many did due to the last market and banking meltdown, they are more likely to relax their moral standards and transgress to improve their financial situation.
A new paper to be published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes said that people could start cheating and indulge ion workplace theft.
Nina Mažar, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and one of the lead researchers of the study, said that they found most respondents did not think financial deprivation would lead them to behave immorally
She added that once they actually experienced financial deprivation, they were more likely to loosen their ethical principles.
This could result in workplace sabotage and the pilfering of supplies and equipment, the paper said.
Public policies that entrench financial inequalities, such as through regressive taxation plans or tax cuts for the wealthy, could also lead to more cheating inside and outside the office.
Those who interpret or enforce policies or regulations as part of their work, in corporations, law enforcement, or the judicial system, need to be mindful of the deprivation effect too.
Temporary upsets in their own financial position could lead them to go easier on others demonstrating unethical behaviour while under financial stress, the paper said.
There are many ways people assess their financial health. But research has found one of the strongest influences is comparing oneself to other people.
A sense of financial deprivation can happen when people simply feel financially inferior to their peers.
The findings are based on a series of experiments that studied people’s views about dishonest behaviour, and how they behaved once they were induced to feel financially-deprived themselves.
The effects were observed both in experiments where people actually experienced financial loss and in those where they were merely made to feel financially-deprived, relative to others.