The Authenticity Gap: When Authentic Individuals are Not Regarded as Such and Why it Matters

32 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2016

See all articles by Laura Guillen

Laura Guillen

ESMT European School of Management and Technology

Natalia Karelaia

INSEAD - Decision Sciences

Hannes Luc Leroy

KU Leuven

Date Written: February 19, 2016

Abstract

Individuals feel authentic when they believe they act consistently with their values. However, others do not necessarily see such individuals as authentic. We explore the gap between felt and perceived authenticity and suggest that individuals’ prosocial orientation determines, jointly with felt authenticity, the extent to which they are perceived as authentic.

We hypothesize that to be seen as authentic, one cannot deviate from universally accepted self-transcendence values by showing little prosocial concern. When that happens, felt authenticity paradoxically reduces the extent to which the individual is perceived as authentic because it signals the deviance from prosocial values is genuine. Consequently, the individual is liked less and, ultimately, seen as less effective at work.

The data collected at a large private organization showed that, as we predicted, felt authenticity was detrimental for individuals with low prosocial orientation such that they were perceived as less authentic, liked less, and received lower job performance evaluations. However, felt authenticity did not affect social outcomes for individuals with high prosocial orientation.

Our results suggest that universal self-transcendence values play a fundamental role in determining authenticity perceptions. When one’s behavior is inconsistent with universally accepted values, individual authenticity becomes a social liability.

Keywords: Authenticity, Prosocial Orientation, Interpersonal Liking, Job Performance Evaluations

Suggested Citation

Guillen, Laura and Karelaia, Natalia and Leroy, Hannes Luc, The Authenticity Gap: When Authentic Individuals are Not Regarded as Such and Why it Matters (February 19, 2016). INSEAD Working Paper No. 2016/08/DSC, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2734779 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2734779

Laura Guillen

ESMT European School of Management and Technology ( email )

Schlossplatz 1
10117 Berlin
Germany

Natalia Karelaia (Contact Author)

INSEAD - Decision Sciences ( email )

United States

Hannes Luc Leroy

KU Leuven ( email )

Oude Markt 13
Leuven, Vlaams-Brabant 3000
Belgium

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