IP track meeting 2018-2019: Why You Should Hire Guilt-Prone Employees.

Kurt Lewin Instituut
Heidelberglaan 1
Room Number H1.42
The Netherlands
T: +31 (0)30 - 253 3027

IP track meeting 2018-2019: Why You Should Hire Guilt-Prone Employees.

Teaching staff
Malia Mason (Columbia Business School), Shaul Shalvi (UvA), Reine van der Wal (UU).

Type of course
Theory-oriented Workshops

April 17, 2019

Utrecht University

1 day


0.5 EC


Overlooked in previous models of personality, guilt-proneness turns out to be key in predicting job performance and leadership potential. Everyone makes mistakes or fails to live up to his or her own, or other people’s, standards on occasion. The difference between people who are low in guilt-proneness versus high is that the former do not feel particularly bothered by mistakes or transgressions, and as such fail to take corrective action to fix them or avoid such behavior in the first place. The highly guilt-prone, on the other hand, feel bad about mistakes and transgressions, especially when their actions negatively impact others. Moreover, they are able to anticipate such feelings before they occur and as a result behave more responsibly and ethically. In this talk, I provide evidence suggesting that high (versus low) levels of guilt-proneness are associated with having better job performance (i.e., less workplace deviance, more organizational citizenship, greater work intensity), better interpersonal relationships (e.g., making more favorable impressions on negotiation counterparts), and more effective leadership (e.g., building and maintaining groups that perform well relative to their competition). Beyond documenting these associations, I present empirical studies using the trust game that help to illuminate the psychological mechanisms through which guilt-proneness leads to trustworthy behavior: moral awareness and a sense of interpersonal responsibility. People with high levels of guilt-proneness see moral implications of potential choices that those low in guilt-proneness do not see, and they feel a personal obligation to act responsibly toward others, even at their own personal expense.

Presentations by Malia Mason (morning), followed by presentations by PhD students (afternoon).

Literature, to read in preparation:
Levine, E. E, Bitterly, T. B., Cohen, T. R., & Schweitzer, M. E. (2018). Who is trustworthy? Predicting trustworthy intentions and behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pspi0000136

Cohen, T. R., Panter, A. T., Turan, N., Morse, L. A., & Kim, Y. (2014). Moral character in the workplace. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 107(5), 943-963. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0037245

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