Psychology Colloquium: Deception as Competence: The Effect of Occupation on Ethical Judgment and Behavior

Speaker: Brian Gunia - Associate Professor, The Johns Hopkins Carey Business School (website)

Title: Deception as Competence: The Effect of Occupation on Ethical Judgment and Behavior

Abstract: Existing research assumes that deception is perceived negatively and limits a person’s career prospects. Yet, in some occupations, deception seems rewarded and rampant. The current research unpacks this puzzle by exploring how deception is perceived and enacted across occupations. Drawing from research on selling, stereotypes, and negotiation, we first demonstrate that judgments about deceivers depend critically on an aspect of the deceiver’s occupation: the extent to which effective members of the occupation are stereotypically perceived to adopt a selling orientation, i.e., to focus on closing immediate self-interested sales. In occupations stereotyped as high (versus low) in selling orientation (HISO vs. LISO), deception by an occupational member may signal their willingness to stretch ethical boundaries, and thus their occupational competence. Finally, we show that the association between deception and competence in HISO occupations can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, as individuals aspiring to join these occupations respond by engaging in elevated deception. In addition to offering an explanation for persistent deception and suggesting potential interventions, these results extend theory, particularly by identifying selling orientation as an occupational stereotype and documenting occupational variation in the perception and enactment of deception.

Faculty Host: Fathali Moghaddam

Friday, October 6, 2017 at 12:00pm to 1:00pm

White-Gravenor Hall, 311
37th and O St., N.W., Washington

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Students, Faculty/Staff


Georgetown College, Psychology


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Department of Psychology

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