Living Reference Work Entry

Handbook of Virtue Ethics in Business and Management

pp 1-11

Date: Latest Version

Virtues and Vices in Workplace Settings: The Role of Moral Character in Predicting Counterproductive and Citizenship Behaviors

  • Lily MorseAffiliated withCarnegie Mellon University Email author 
  • , Taya R. CohenAffiliated withTepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University


Which moral character traits are influential in predicting moral and immoral workplace behaviors? We focus our investigation on two workplace behaviors relevant to morality, organizational citizenship behaviors (OCB) and counterproductive work behaviors (CWB), and review research on key personality traits associated with these behaviors. We discuss broad traits described by the Big Five personality framework and the HEXACO model of personality, as well as narrower traits that predict moral and immoral behaviors, including guilt proneness, self-control, and moral identity. The research we describe challenges situationist perspectives in business ethics and psychology that claim that character traits do not significantly and consistently predict behavior across situations. In contrast to situationist perspectives, we argue that moral character exists and predicts consequential work outcomes.


Personality Psychology Moral character Organizational citizenship behavior Counterproductive work behavior