The Effects of Pornography on Unethical Behavior in Business

Journal of Business Ethics, Forthcoming

50 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2019

See all articles by Nathan Mecham

Nathan Mecham

University of Pittsburgh - University of Pittsburgh, Katz Graduate School of Business, Students

Melissa F. Lewis-Western

Brigham Young University - Marriott School of Business

David A. Wood

Brigham Young University - School of Accountancy

Date Written: June 5, 2019

Abstract

Pornography is no longer an activity confined to a small group of individuals or the privacy of one’s home. Rather, it has permeated modern culture, including the work environment. Given the pervasive nature of pornography, we study how viewing pornography affects unethical behavior at work. Using survey data from a sample that approximates a nationally representative sample in terms of demographics, we find a positive correlation between viewing pornography and intended unethical behavior. We then conduct an experiment to provide causal evidence. The experiment confirms the survey — consuming pornography causes individuals to be less ethical. We find that this relationship is mediated by increased moral disengagement from dehumanization of others due to viewing pornography. Combined, our results suggest that choosing to consume pornography causes individuals to behave less ethically. Because unethical employee behavior has been linked to numerous negative organization outcomes including fraud, collusion, and other self-serving behaviors, our results have implications for most societal organizations.

Keywords: Pornography, Ethics, Unethical Behavior, Dehumanization

JEL Classification: M00, M1, M4, J1

Suggested Citation

Mecham, Nathan and Lewis-Western, Melissa Fay and Wood, David A., The Effects of Pornography on Unethical Behavior in Business (June 5, 2019). Journal of Business Ethics, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3399630

Nathan Mecham

University of Pittsburgh - University of Pittsburgh, Katz Graduate School of Business, Students ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA
United States

Melissa Fay Lewis-Western

Brigham Young University - Marriott School of Business ( email )

Provo, UT 84602
United States
801-703-8426 (Phone)

David A. Wood (Contact Author)

Brigham Young University - School of Accountancy ( email )

518 TNRB
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602
United States
801-422-8642 (Phone)
801-422-0621 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://marriottschool.byu.edu/employee/employee.cfm?emp=daw44

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