Crimes that Bind: Examining the Positive Effects of Unethical Behavior in Groups
The purpose of this study was to advance our understanding of the consequences of unethical behavior at the group level. Drawing upon the misattribution of arousal paradigm and self-expansion theory, we argue that the unethical actions of one group member increases arousal and psychological closeness within the group as a whole, even among members that were merely complicit in the act. However, utilizing response-facilitation theory, we argue that these effects are dependent on performance feedback. When unethical behavior results in positive performance feedback, psychological closeness will increase. When unethical behavior results in negative performance feedback, psychological closeness will decrease. We then propose moderated mediation, suggesting that unethical behavior will increase information sharing on a subsequent task due to increased psychological closeness, but only where receiving positive performance feedback. Utilizing a two-by-two factorial design, we test our hypothesized model with 90 groups in the lab. Results partly supported our hypotheses, offering implications for a number of different literatures in the field of management.