Research output

The motivation and inhibition of breaking the rules: Personal values structures predict unethicality

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Associated researcher

  • Feldman, G.
  • Chao, M. M.
  • Farh, J. L.
  • Bardi, A.


We theorized and tested the relationship of personal value systems with unethical attitudes and behavior. Results from three studies using 16 diverse multi-national samples (N= 107,087) demonstrated the complexity of motivations underlying unethicality. Across contexts and cultures, for attitudes (Study 1 meta-analysis) and behaviors in the lab (Study 2) and in real-life (Study 3), we consistently found that the values theory circumplex structure predicted the inhibition and motivation of unethicality. Unethicality was positively associated with self-enhancement values and negatively associated with self-transcendence and conservation values. However, self-transcendence and conservation values were associated with the inhibition of different types of unethicality. The relationship of openness-to-change values with unethicality was generally positive but the effect size varied depending on context.

    Research areas

  • Basic motivations, Personal values, Unethical behavior, Unethicality, Values circumplex
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-80
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Research in Personality
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes