The Finer Points of Lying Online

Theoretical Framework and Methods

This article has a strong theoretical foundation with Bandura’s moral disengagement theory.  The three main theoretical reasons for their belief that people will lie more in email is that individuals view email as less permanent, an outlet for less restrained behavior, and less personal.  A key element of this article is the fact that email affords individuals more psychological distance within which to misbehave.

Studies one and two were valuable in establishing first that there was a marked difference in lying over email versus with pen and paper.  Furthermore the design was set up to make sure the sequence of making the offer first and measuring justification made no difference.  Study 3 was the most important since it included participants who had previous interactions, would have some contact in the future, would receive minimal monetary incentives, and had knowledge that if they lied they would be discovered.  All three studies yielded findings that participants using email lied a good deal more than those using paper and pen.

Strengths and Weaknesses

One of the greatest strengths of this article is that the authors used a strong theoretical argument and applied it to a relatively new and increasingly important method of business communication.  The findings add value to the current understanding of how email is used as opposed to pen and paper communication as well as prompting valuable future areas of research.

The authors correctly point out that even though one of their theoretical arguments is that email can be perceived as less permanent for reasons such as the ease with which it may be deleted and the fact that it seems intangible this is not actually the case.  They explain that these records rather than being less permanent are far more permanent than physical records. The authors also note the potential that lying through email or through electronic submission of information may have in areas such as real estate, online tax filing, and even in university settings.  This timely article has real-world relevance as electronic communication becomes an increasingly important part of business.

As with any study there are weaknesses that must be further investigated.  First, business school class peers are not the same as work colleagues or long-term friends.  These are short term relationships and even though there were small monetary incentives the implications for being found a liar are not the same as a true work setting.  Second, all of the samples had very similar demographic characteristics, situational contexts, and minimal consequences for lying.

Potential Future Actions

Giving a wider range of demographics and situational contexts would be very valuable to this research.  Furthermore, exploring how the relationship between those communicating over email has both financial and relational implications.

Citation:

Naquin, C., Kurtzberg, T., & Belkin, L. (2010). The finer points of lying online: E-mail versus pen and paper. Journal of Applied Psychology95(2), 387-394.

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Posted: September 29th, 2012 | Author: | Uncategorized | No Comments »

Would you work if you won the lottery?

Theoretical Framework and Methods

This article looks at whether workers would continue to work even if it were not financially necessary.  This is a question which comes up in many different contexts including popular culture.  Through this interesting dataset one is able to look at changes in responses to this question from the 1950’s until today.  The authors build on the work of Vecchio (1980) to offer updated results of this survey.  As the authors note, the percentage of people who stated that they would continue to work steadily declined until roughly 1993 when it appears to have remained relatively constant.  There is not an established theoretical framework for work attitude changes over such a long period of time.  The authors mention one possible explanation is changes in the work ethic to be more “self” focused in later generations.  This explanation does not, however, explain the flattening of the percentage of people stating they would continue working if they did not need to do so.  To this question the authors bring up the potential of changes in parenting to emphasize work versus play or even changes in how candid respondents were to the survey question.

Strengths and Weaknesses

One of the strengths of this paper was the use of GDP as a moderator in the relationship between time and lottery question responses was an interesting and useful decision.  The findings do point out a quandary that even though people are asked if they would not need to work many displayed a desire to do so during worse economic times.  It would be interesting to tease this apart further, perhaps through more refined economic indicators and perhaps through the economic status of individuals surveyed.

One of the weaknesses is the fact that while this question has a valuable longitudinal associated data set it is a very limited question.  The authors attempted to broaden it by including women in their version of the story and did not see a large impact for gender or other demographic variables.  Unfortunately, the question does not specify what is meant by work or how long individuals would decide not to work.  For example, is volunteering considered work or more appropriately are there jobs that these individuals would do even without compensation?  The authors effectively utilized the dataset and extended the research.  They also appropriately point to the need for further research to isolate the causes of these changes.

Potential Future Actions

In addition to the suggestions the authors made for future studies, it would be interesting to follow previous lottery winners to see if they actually did work.  There may be a difference between individuals who say they will or will not work and their actual behaviors.  Looking at the behavior of past winners might shed light on this question.

The moderator analysis of the economic condition also brought up some interesting questions.  It would be interesting to look at these results against the “American Customer Satisfaction Index” which gives a more granular look at different sectors of the economy and may deliver a greater understanding of the economic sectors, industries, companies, and government agencies that have an impact on these responses.  This might shed light on aspects of the economy which may have a larger impact on the fear of leaving the workforce than others.

Citation:

Highhouse, S., Zickar, M., & Yankelevich, M. (2010). Would you work if you won the lottery? Tracking changes in the American work ethic. Journal of Applied Psychology95(2), 349-357.

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Posted: September 29th, 2012 | Author: | Uncategorized | No Comments »

Baseball CEO Personality and Strategic Outcomes: What Can We Learn?

Background and Findings

This study looked at 75 CEOs of Major League Baseball teams over a 100 year period to find the impact of CEO personality on four different strategic outcomes.  The study found that CEOs with transformational leadership styles were positively related to ratings of influence, team winning percentage, and fan attendance.  Contingent leadership styles were negatively related to manager turnover and ratings of influence.

Methodology

The study used trained undergraduates to create a profile of roughly 5,000 words based on historical documents such as biographies for each Baseball CEO over time.  These profiles were then scored to define the personality score for each individual.  Excellent steps were taken throughout the study to account for the impact of important criteria in the study.  These included changes in writing style over the 100 year period, historical fan attendance levels, and other factors that may have impacted the results.

For the purpose of the study, CEO personality was divided into two categories “bright-side” or core self evaluations and “dark-side” or narcissism.  The Transformational Leadership Behavioral Inventory was used to measure transformational leadership and transactional leadership while the adjectives from the Gough Adjective Check List were used to describe personality.  The “bright-side” characteristics were positively related to transformational leadership and the “dark-side” characteristics were negatively related to contingent reward leadership.

Study Thoughts

The study overall was quite interesting and well executed given the large scale of the effort.  One unique perspective this study yields is the ability to look at an industry in its entirety and treat each team as an independent organization.  On the other hand, this isolated system did limit the sample size since there were only 75 CEOs who could be included.  While this is a large segment of the total CEO population over the past 100 years, it does temper the conclusions being drawn from the data.  Although the study did a good job using the available data, it would be interesting to see how other personality characteristics impacted the strategic outcomes listed.

So What?

The study was excellent in that it approached an interesting industry, controlled for many historical conditions, and came up with meaningful findings about how personality impacts key strategic outcomes in Major League Baseball.  This study does lend additional evidence to the argument that CEO personality trickles down to the bottom line.  Perhaps the most interesting finding was that “… all else being equal, having a CEO one standard deviation above the mean on transformation leadership predicts winning an extra five games per year during the CEO’s first 3 years in office.”  Given the use of wildcard playoff births, this finding alone has important implications for Major League Baseball teams making the playoffs.

Citation: Resick, C., Whitman, D., Weingarden, S., & Hiller, N. (2009). The bright-side and the dark-side of CEO personality: Examining core self-evaluations, narcissism, transformational leadership, and strategic influence. Journal of Applied Psychology94(6), 1365-1381.

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Posted: September 29th, 2012 | Author: | Uncategorized | No Comments »

Welcome

Welcome to my new blog, I am glad you are here.  This will become a place to discuss recent research articles that cross the realms of business and psychology.

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Posted: September 29th, 2012 | Author: | Uncategorized | Comments Off