Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 114, Issue 1, pp 45-53

First online:

Predicting Counterproductive Work Behavior from Guilt Proneness

  • Taya R. CohenAffiliated withTepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University Email author 
  • , A. T. PanterAffiliated withUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • , Nazli TuranAffiliated withTepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University

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We investigated the relationship between guilt proneness and counterproductive work behavior (CWB) using a diverse sample of employed adults working in a variety of different industries at various levels in their organizations. CWB refers to behaviors that harm or are intended to harm organizations or people in organizations. Guilt proneness is a personality trait characterized by a predisposition to experience negative feelings about personal wrongdoing. CWB was engaged in less frequently by individuals high in guilt proneness compared to those low in guilt proneness, controlling for other known correlates of CWB. CWB was also predicted by gender, age, intention to turnover, interpersonal conflict at work, and negative affect at work. Given the detrimental impact of CWB on people and organizations, it may be wise for employers to consider guilt proneness when making hiring decisions.


Counterproductive work behavior Guilt proneness Unethical behavior Morality Personality Individual differences