We ordinarily think of people as honest or dishonest, a broad-brush description which implicitly assumes that honesty is a personal characteristic that generalizes across decision domains. If so, a student who cheats on an exam is also more likely to shoplift or lie to a friend or partner. Does knowing that a corporate manager is opportunistic in one decision domain tell us much about whether the manager will misbehave in some other domain? In other words, are some managers just `bad apples’?
Recently, in the paper “Opportunism as a Managerial Trait: Predicting Insider Trading Profits and Misconduct” Usman Ali, Portoflio Manager at MIG Capital, and I study these questions by examining whether corporate managers who profit by insider trading in their firms’ stocks engage in other forms of misbehavior as well.
Interview with Francesca Gino, social scientist, author of "Sidetracked" and professor at Harvard Business School
What are your main areas of research?
Most people want to behave in ways that are consistent with their self-image as competent, effective, and honest human beings. Yet, even when they are fully committed to acting according to their best intentions, they often reach outcomes that bear little resemblance to their initial goals. Why do people often get sidetracked? This is the question I focus on in my research. My research is organized around two conceptual themes: the study of why people fail to follow through on their intentions of being 1) honest, and 2) competent or effective.
Interview with Dan Ariely, the James B. Duke Professor of Psychology & Behavioral Economics at Duke University and columnist for The Wall Street Journal
I study human irrationality in general. I am interested in thinking about how people make mistakes, what kind of mistakes people do, why people make mistakes and how to fix them. These days I am working in several main areas: some research on the psychology of money- to think about why we overspend and under save and what we can do about it. I am also working a little bit on health, i.e. why don't we take care of ourselves, why we overeat and don't take our medicine on time, why we procrastinate, and of course, dishonesty, or why people get themselves into trouble.
“Oh what a tangled web we weave…”
We all know that lying can lead to bad consequences for the liar, but what happens to everyone else?
A 2015 article by Scott Wiltermuth, David Newman, and Medha Raj in Current Opinion in Psychology reviews findings that illustrate how dishonesty can yield a host of unexpected consequences, which arise when individuals privilege other values over honesty. Although many people act dishonestly for the sake of material gain, others do so from a desire to maintain a positive self-concept, or even out of compassion.