Are Creative Individuals Bad Apples? A Dual Pathway Model of Unethical Behavior

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Journal of Applied Psychology

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Research has been inconsistent in its quest to discover whether dispositional creativity is associated with more or less unethical behavior. Drawing on social cognitive theory, we propose that moral disengagement and moral imagination are 2 parallel mechanisms that encourage or inhibit unethical behavior, and that which of these mediation processes occur depends on moral identity. Study 1, a 3-wave study of a food service organization, shows that employees high on both dispositional creativity and moral identity are less likely to be morally disengaged and behave less unethically. The results of Study 2 replicate Study 1’s findings in a scenario-based study of college students, and further show that individuals who are high on both dispositional creativity and moral identity are more likely to be morally imaginative and to behave less unethically. Theoretical and practical implications of our model are discussed.



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