Effects of uncertainty on dishonest behavior



This is the data package for Chapter 5 of How Hwee Ong's dissertation. In life, people often have to anxiously await the outcome of important events. We investigated if the uncertainty associated with such events would affect the tendency to engage in dishonest behavior for financial gains. In doing so, we tested two competing predictions. First, the magical justice prediction posits that people would be less likely to engage in dishonest acts to avoid incurring supernatural punishment. Second, the anxiety prediction posits that the anxiety evoked by such situations would increase dishonesty either by causing people to be less attentive towards moral principles or prompting the tendency to seek material resources as a way to cope with the anxiety. In two studies, we manipulated the saliency of uncertainty in a writing task and subsequently provided participants with the opportunity to behave dishonestly for financial gains. Our findings provide tentative support for the anxiety prediction, but no support for the magical justice prediction .
Date made available30 Aug 2022

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