Deception often viewed as sign of competence in certain occupations: study

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, June 12, 2019
Adjust font size:

CHICAGO, June 11 (Xinhua) -- A study from the University of Chicago (UChicago) Booth School of Business found that the ability to deceive is viewed as a sign of competence in jobs that require selling.

In the study, Chicago Booth's Emma Levine and Johns Hopkins University's Brian Gunia found that people don't always disapprove of deception. In fact, they perceive the ability to deceive as an asset in occupations that are stereotyped as high in "selling orientation," according to a news release posted on the website of UChicago on Tuesday.

"Deception, in the form of fraud, embezzling and corruption, costs the economy a great deal of money and undermines the economy's underlying moral fabric," Levine and Gunia explain. "Companies expose themselves to greater risk by hiring deceivers."

In two pilot studies, the researchers asked participants to rate 32 occupations as "high" or "low" in selling orientation, reflecting the degree to which occupational members persuade others to make immediate purchases as part of their jobs.

In four subsequent studies, the researchers honed in on three occupations that are stereotyped as particularly high in selling orientation: sales, investment banking and advertising, and three occupations that participants viewed as relatively low in selling orientation: consulting, nonprofit management and accounting.

The researchers then ran experiments in which participants observed individuals lying or acting honestly in a variety of circumstances. Finally, participants judged how successful and competent a liar or honest individual would be in occupations that were high or low in selling orientation, and, in two of the studies, whether to hire them into those occupations.

Participants believed that liars would be more successful in high-selling orientation occupations than low selling-orientation occupations. Furthermore, they believed that liars would be more successful than honest people in high-selling orientation occupations.

When participants had the opportunity to hire individuals to complete selling-oriented tasks, they were more likely to hire deceivers for these tasks, even when their own money was on the line.

High-pressure selling occupations, which include investment bankers and advertisers, are some of society's highest-status and highest-paid occupations, so prospective employees and employers should worry "if deception is a prerequisite for employees to get hired and rewarded," Levine said.

Organizations intent on reducing deception should avoid framing occupational tasks as requiring high-pressure sales tactics to succeed, according to the study.

Instead, they would do well to align their job requirements with a customer-oriented approach to selling that emphasizes how the employee can help fulfill a client's long-term interests. Such a shift could reduce hiring managers' tendencies to see deceivers as competent and reduce the temptation to recruit deceivers into key roles.

"Armed with the knowledge that deception is perceived to signal competence in high-pressure sales occupations," the researchers write, "companies may want to explicitly deem deception as incompetent."

The findings have been published in journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. Enditem

Follow on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
ChinaNews App Download
Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from