Judging Ethical Behavior in the Workplace: The Role of Attractiveness and Gender

Posted: 12 Feb 2018 Last revised: 20 May 2019

See all articles by Galit Klein

Galit Klein

Ariel University

Ze'ev Shtudiner

Ariel University - Department of Economics

Jeffrey Kantor

Ariel University

Date Written: February 12, 2018

Abstract

One of the most challenging areas for employees and managers is dealing with shades of gray related to ethical behaviors. The ability to evaluate unethical behavior can differ from person to person and is vulnerable to the influences of unrelated attributions. In the current study, we investigated the role of physical attractiveness and gender in judging severity of unethical workplace behavior. Scenarios with unethical behavioral dilemmas were displayed to 4,602 subjects in different versions accompanied with images. Our findings show that "gray area" behavior was evaluated with more severity if conducted by a plain-looking employee than an attractive one. When comparing genders, the same action was perceived as more ethical if performed by male employees. We explore a number of explanations for this discrimination based on the psychological literature.

Keywords: beauty, labor market, experiment, judgment, ethical behavior, gender

JEL Classification: C91, J70, K42

Suggested Citation

Klein, Galit and Shtudiner, Ze'ev and Kantor, Jeffrey, Judging Ethical Behavior in the Workplace: The Role of Attractiveness and Gender (February 12, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3122277 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3122277

Galit Klein

Ariel University ( email )

Israel

Ze'ev Shtudiner (Contact Author)

Ariel University - Department of Economics ( email )

Ariel, 40300
Israel

Jeffrey Kantor

Ariel University ( email )

Ariel, 40700
Israel

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