Violence, Aggression, and Ethics: The Link Between Exposure to Human Violence and Unethical Behavior
- 1.6k Downloads
Can exposure to media portrayals of human violence impact an individual’s ethical decision making at work? Ethical business failures can result in enormous financial losses to individuals, businesses, and society. We study how exposure to human violence—especially through media—can cause individuals to make less ethical decisions. We present three experiments, each showing a causal link between exposure to human violence and unethical business behavior, and show this relationship is mediated by an increase in individual hostility levels as a result of exposure to violence. Using observational data, we then provide evidence suggesting that this relationship extends beyond the context of our experiments, showing that companies headquartered in locations marked by greater human violence are more likely to fraudulently misstate their financial statements and exhibit more aggressive financial reporting. Combined, our results suggest that exposure to human violence has significant and real effects on an individual’s ethical decision making.
KeywordsViolence Aggression Ethics Hostility Dehumanization
- Anderson, C. A., & Bushman, B. J. (2001). Effects of violent video games on aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, aggressive affect, physiological arousal, and prosocial behavior: a meta-analytic review of the scientific literature. Psychological Science, 12(5), 353–359. doi: 10.1111/1467-9280.00366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Anderson, C. A., Shibuya, A., Ihori, N., Swing, E. L., Bushman, B. J., Sakamoto, A., et al. (2010). Violent video game effects on aggression, empathy, and prosocial behavior in eastern and western countries: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin, 136(2), 151. doi: 10.1037/a0018566.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) (2014) Report to the nations on occupational fraud and abuse. Retrieved April 24, 2015 from http://www.acfe.com/rttn/docs/2014-report-to-nations.pdf.
- Dechow, P.-M., Sloan, R.-G., & Sweeney, A.-P. (1995). Detecting earnings management. The Accounting Review, 70(2), 193–225.Google Scholar
- Gubler, J. R., Kalmoe, N. P., Wood, D. A. (2015). Them’s fightin’ words: The effects of violent rhetoric on ethical decision making in business. Journal of Business Ethics, 130(3), 705–716. doi: 10.1007/s10551-014-2256-y.
- Hayes, A. F. (2013). Introduction to mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis: A regression-based approach. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Leyens, J. P., Rodriguez Perez, A., Rodriguez Torres, R., Gaunt, R., Paladino, M. P., Vaes, J., & Demoulin, S. (2001). Psychological essentialism and the differential attribution of uniquely human emotions to ingroups and outgroups. European Journal of Social Psychology, 31(4), 395–411. doi: 10.1002/ejsp.50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Maria-Paola, P., Leyens, J.-P., Rodriguez, R., Rodriguez, A., Gaunt, R., & Demoulin, S. (2002). Differential association of uniquely and non uniquely human emotions with the ingroup and the outgroup. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 5(2), 105–117. doi: 10.1177/1368430202005002539.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Mitnick, B. M. (1992). The theory of agency and organizational analysis. In N. Bowie & R. E. Freeman (Eds.), Ethics and agency theory (pp. 75–96). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Suri, S., Goldstein, D.-G., Mason, W.-A. (2011). Honesty in an online labor market. AAAI workshops, North America. Retrieved Nov 5, 2014 from https://www.aaai.org/ocs/index.php/WS/AAAIW11/paper/view/3955.