Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 114, Issue 1, pp 45–53

Predicting Counterproductive Work Behavior from Guilt Proneness


DOI: 10.1007/s10551-012-1326-2

Cite this article as:
Cohen, T.R., Panter, A.T. & Turan, N. J Bus Ethics (2013) 114: 45. doi:10.1007/s10551-012-1326-2


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 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tepper School of BusinessCarnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.University of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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