Protect thyself: How affective self-protection increases self-interested, unethical behavior

Karen Page Winterich, Vikas Mittal, Andrea C. Morales

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


In this research, we draw on the characteristics of disgust-an affective state that prompts a self-protection response-to demonstrate that experiencing disgust can also increase self-interested, unethical behaviors such as cheating. This series of studies contributes to the literature demonstrating context-specific effects on self-interested, unethical behavior. Specifically, we show that innocuous emotion-eliciting cues can elicit a focus on the protection of one's own welfare, leading people to engage in self-interested behaviors that are unethical. This research provides evidence that the importance of clean physical environments may extend beyond visual beautification of surroundings to include economic behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-161
Number of pages11
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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