Differentiating Between Premeditated And Impulsive Unethical Behavior: A Criminal Justice Perspective
AuthorMai, Ke Michael
KeywordsImpulsive unethical behavior
Premeditated unethical behavior
AdvisorEllis, Aleksander P.J.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractA growing body of research has emerged in order to better understand unethical behavior at work. However, most theory and research has focused on identifying personal and situational characteristics that predict unethical behavior. However, in order to develop a more complete picture of the phenomenon, research also needs to examine the outcomes of unethical behavior at work. In this research, I adopt research and theory from criminal justice in order to better understand how employees react to unethical behavior at work. In particular, I differentiate between two types of unethical behavior, namely premeditated and impulsive unethical behavior. Based on the criminal justice literature, I define impulsive unethical behaviors as unethical actions where the thought to act did not arise prior to the immediate situation, whereas premeditated unethical behaviors represent unethical actions where the thought to act occurred prior to the immediate situation. I argue that premeditated acts will result in more severe reactions than acts that are impulsive in nature. Specifically, I sought to examine observers' perceived unethicality and recommended punishment towards the two types of unethical behavior. Integrating attribution theory, I also explored three dimensions of attributions (i.e., controllability, stability, and intentionality) as mediating mechanisms. Then, utilizing ethical dissonance theory as an explanatory framework, I examined both wrongdoers' and observers' history of engaging unethical acts as potential moderators of the mediated effects. Finally, methods were presented for two studies. The first study utilized a field sample of adult workers, and the second study utilized a sample of university students. Based on the results from the two studies, I found evidence that the type of unethical behavior that a wrongdoer engages in matters in terms of how they will be evaluated. I also found that observers see premeditated behavior as more intentional, which drives their evaluations. Finally, both observers' and wrongdoers' past history impact my hypothesized model at different points along the causal chain. I hope my results help instigate a shift in the behavioral ethics literature; one that begins to integrate research from the criminal justice literature and one that shifts focus away from examining every possible predictor of unethical behavior at work to what happens following the act itself.
Degree ProgramGraduate College