Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2280370
 


 



Off the Hook? Mistaken Expectations of Leniency in the Punishment of Transgressions


Celia Moore


London Business School; Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics

Lamar Pierce


Washington University, Saint Louis - John M. Olin School of Business

Francesca Gino


Harvard University - Harvard Business School

January 23, 2014

Harvard Business School NOM Unit Working Paper No. 13-101

Abstract:     
This paper combines experimental and field data to examine how those with the responsibility to enforce rules may penalize transgressors more harshly when they are faced with a conflicting motivation to be lenient. Specifically, we test how transgressors are punished when it is their birthday: a day when social norms dictate people should be treated preferentially. We first establish that individuals expect leniency on their birthday. We then show that, compared to other days, transgressors are in fact penalized more severely for transgressing rules when it is their birthday, both by law enforcement (using more than 134,000 arrest records for drunk driving in Washington State) and by participants with responsibility to enforce rules in an experimental lab setting. We also show that this effect is driven by psychological reactance. We discuss both the theoretical and practical implications of our findings.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 48

Keywords: ethics; transgressions; punishment; leniency; bias; reactance; multi-method

working papers series


Download This Paper

Date posted: June 18, 2013 ; Last revised: January 24, 2014

Suggested Citation

Moore, Celia and Pierce, Lamar and Gino, Francesca, Off the Hook? Mistaken Expectations of Leniency in the Punishment of Transgressions (January 23, 2014). Harvard Business School NOM Unit Working Paper No. 13-101. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2280370 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2280370

Contact Information

Celia Moore
London Business School ( email )
Sussex Place
Regent's Park
London, NW1 4SA
United Kingdom
020 7000 8931 (Phone)
Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics ( email )
124 Mount Auburn Street
Suite 520N
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
Lamar Pierce
Washington University, Saint Louis - John M. Olin School of Business ( email )
One Brookings Drive
Campus Box 1133
St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
United States
314-935-5205 (Phone)
Francesca Gino (Contact Author)
Harvard University - Harvard Business School ( email )
Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States
Feedback to SSRN


Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 1,029
Downloads: 229
Download Rank: 73,468
Paper comments
No comments have been made on this paper

© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo2 in 0.547 seconds