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Who lies? A large-scale reanalysis linking basic personality traits to unethical decision making

Daniel W. Heck, Isabel Thielmann, Morten Moshagen and Benjamin E. Hilbig

Judgment and Decision Making, 2018, vol. 13, issue 4, 356-371

Abstract: Previous research has established that higher levels of trait Honesty-Humility (HH) are associated with less dishonest behavior in cheating paradigms. However, only imprecise effect size estimates of this HH-cheating link are available. Moreover, evidence is inconclusive on whether other basic personality traits from the HEXACO or Big Five models are associated with unethical decision making and whether such effects have incremental validity beyond HH. We address these issues in a highly powered reanalysis of 16 studies assessing dishonest behavior in an incentivized, one-shot cheating paradigm ($N$ = 5,002). For this purpose, we rely on a newly developed logistic regression approach for the analysis of nested data in cheating paradigms. We also test theoretically derived interactions of HH with other basic personality traits (i.e., Emotionality and Conscientiousness) and situational factors (i.e., the baseline probability of observing a favorable outcome) as well as the incremental validity of HH over demographic characteristics. The results show a medium to large effect of HH (odds ratio = 0.53), which was independent of other personality, situational, or demographic variables. Only one other trait (Big Five Agreeableness) was associated with unethical decision making, although it failed to show any incremental validity beyond HH.

Keywords: cheating; dishonesty; logistic regression; HEXACO Honesty-Humility; Big Five (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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Handle: RePEc:jdm:journl:v:13:y:2018:i:4:p:356-371