Reactions by Groups to Dishonest Behavior

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Reactions by Groups to Dishonest Behavior
Anneke Zwart, Student (University), Netherlands

Keck (2014) examined in what way groups react to dishonest behavior in comparison with individuals. According to the author, the so-called “escalation hypothesis” is valid. This hypothesis suggests that groups react more strongly to dishonest behavior than individuals do. So, what reasons does he propose for such a statement?
1. Groups reinforce: the negative effect of dishonest behavior experienced by group members is stronger than what individuals experience, due to the fact that group members can reinforce each other’s feelings and believes after interacting. The reason why this happens is that people exposed to opinions of like-minded people will feel corroborated in their opinions and ideas. This confirmation will in turn make those individuals of groups behave more extreme.
2. Social comparisons: a second reason might be that members of groups often get involved into group discussions in which members are trying to “one up” each other; this discussion process can lead to an increasingly strong and negative feeling about dishonest behavior as the discussion continues.
3. Hostility towards out-groups: it is often the case that being a member of a group automatically reinforces hostility feelings towards nonmembers, even without any communication among members of the group. This is particularly the case when non members are perceived as people that violate social norms and values, so that extremely negative feelings are brought forth by group members.
Source: Keck, S. (2014) “Group Reactions to Dishonesty” Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes Vol. 124 iss. 1 pp. 1-10



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