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Do moral disengagers experience guilt following workplace misconduct? Consequences for emotional exhaustion and task performance
journal contributionposted on 2023-02-06, 23:25 authored by B Ogunfowora, VQ Nguyen, CS Lee, MT Babalola, Shuang Ren
According to Bandura, moral disengagement facilitates misconduct by minimizing feelings of guilt that normally arise when one contemplates wrongdoing. While trait moral disengagement has been negatively associated with anticipatory guilt, scholars have yet to fully consider its impact on guilt post-misconduct. In this paper, we examine the indirect effects of trait moral disengagement on post-misconduct guilt, and downstream effects on employees' mental health and performance. Lastly, we explore the moderating role of post-misconduct state moral disengagement in shaping the effects of trait moral disengagement. Across three studies, we find that trait moral disengagement is positively linked to guilt following interpersonal deviance, unethical work behavior, and objective cheating behavior. Further, trait moral disengagement is indirectly, positively linked to emotional exhaustion and negatively related to executive function (specifically, the capacity to inhibit distraction during tasks). In a fourth study, we find that trait moral disengagement is positively associated with guilt and subsequent emotional exhaustion when individuals employ little to no state moral disengagement immediately post-misconduct. In contrast, trait moral disengagement is negatively linked to guilt and emotional exhaustion when individuals employ state moral disengagement post-misconduct. We discuss the implications of these findings for advancing moral disengagement theory and research.
JournalJournal of Organizational Behavior
Publication classificationC1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
unethical work behaviortask performanceself condemning moral emotionsmoral disengagementinterpersonal devianceguiltemotional exhaustioncheatingBasic Behavioral and Social ScienceBehavioral and Social Science3 Good Health and Well BeingPsychology not elsewhere classifiedBusiness and Management not elsewhere classified