The Effects of Pornography on Unethical Behavior in Business
Journal of Business Ethics, Forthcoming
50 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2019
Date Written: June 5, 2019
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: Suggested Citation