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Dangerous expectations: Breaking rules to resolve cognitive dissonance Seminar

12:30 - 13:30
3 March 2016
University of Southampton, Highfield Campus, Building 44 (Shackleton), Room 3031/3033

For more information regarding this seminar, please telephone Sue McNally on 02380 595150 or email .

Event details

We generally have expectations about both the tasks we perform and how well we will perform them. When those expectations go unmet, we experience psychological discomfort (cognitive dissonance), which we are motivated to resolve. In this paper we focus on the dysfunctional consequences of disconfirming high performance expectations. In three studies, we find that individuals are more likely to break rules if they have been led to expect that achieving high levels of performance will be easy rather than difficult, even if this means behaving unethically. We show that this willingness to break rules is not due to differences in legitimate performance as a function of participants¹ expectations, or whether participants¹ expectations are set explicitly (by referring to others¹ performance) or implicitly (as implied by their own prior performance). Instead, using a misattribution paradigm, we show that cognitive dissonance triggered by unmet expectations drives our effects.

Speaker information

Dr Celia Moore, London Business School. Celia Moore is an Assistant Professor of Organisational Behaviour at London Business School. Her current research investigates the unanticipated causes and consequences of corruption and unethical behaviour. She teaches Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility in the core MBA and Executive MBA programs. In 2011 she was a Visiting Scholar at the Harvard Business School, and for the 2011-2012 academic year was a Fellow at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University. Prior to joining the faculty at London Business School she spent eight years in human resources consulting and research, five of which were at Catalyst, a New York-headquartered nonprofit that works with business to advance women. While there, she spearheaded Catalyst’s entry into Canada, which opened a Toronto office in 2000. She earned her B.A. in Philosophy from McGill University and holds Master's in Public Administration from Columbia University. Her completed her doctoral work at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.

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