Guilt Proneness and Moral Character

Cohen, T. R., Panter, A. T., & Turan, N. (2012). Guilt proneness and moral character. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 21, 355-359.

20 Pages Posted: 11 May 2014

See all articles by Taya R. Cohen

Taya R. Cohen

Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business

A. T. Panter

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill

Nazli Turan

Carnegie Mellon University

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

Guilt proneness is a personality trait indicative of a predisposition to experience negative feelings about personal wrongdoing, even when the wrongdoing is private. It is characterized by the anticipation of feeling bad about committing transgressions rather than by guilty feelings in a particular moment or generalized guilty feelings that occur without an eliciting event. Our research has revealed that guilt proneness is an important character trait because knowing a person’s level of guilt proneness helps us to predict the likelihood that they will behave unethically. For example, online studies of adults across the U.S. have shown that people who score high in guilt proneness (compared to low scorers) make fewer unethical business decisions, commit fewer delinquent behaviors, and behave more honestly when they make economic decisions. In the workplace, guilt-prone employees are less likely to engage in counterproductive behaviors that harm their organization.

Keywords: guilt; personality; unethical behavior; counterproductive work behavior; character; morality

Suggested Citation

Cohen, Taya R. and Panter, A. T. and Turan, Nazli, Guilt Proneness and Moral Character (2012). Cohen, T. R., Panter, A. T., & Turan, N. (2012). Guilt proneness and moral character. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 21, 355-359., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2435659

Taya R. Cohen (Contact Author)

Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business ( email )

5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States
4122686677 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.tepper.cmu.edu/our-faculty-and-research/about-our-faculty/faculty-profiles/tcohen/cohen-t

A. T. Panter

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill ( email )

102 Ridge Road
Chapel Hill, NC NC 27514
United States

Nazli Turan

Carnegie Mellon University ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

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