Academy of Management Journal2014-07-08 5:45 PM

Conscience without Cognition: The Effects of Subconscious Priming on Ethical Behavior

Abstract
Research in the field of behavioral ethics has traditionally viewed ethical decision making as rational and deliberate. However, some recent research has proposed a dual process model of ethical decision making that has both conscious and subconscious components (Reynolds, 2006). We extend current theory by using subconscious ethical and unethical priming to test the effects of subconscious processes on ethical behavior through an automatic process of schema activation and implicit association. Studies 1 and 2 extend self-concept maintenance theory (Mazar, Amir, & Ariely, 2008) by exploring the mediated process through which subconscious ethical and unethical primes trigger the activation of moral standards, thereby influencing categorization and subsequent responses to morally ambiguous situations. Study 3 demonstrates that both subconscious ethical and unethical priming reduce dishonesty even when participants are unmonitored and are given difficult performance goals that previously have been shown to lead to unethical behavior.

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http://amj.aom.org/content/57/3/723.full 

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Academy of Management Journal

The Academy of Management Journal (AMJ) is the flagship empirical journal in management, and has been indispensable reading for management scholars for more than five decades. AMJ articles test, extend, or build theory and contribute to management practice using a variety of empirical methods.

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