Ego Depletion and Behavioral Ethics
Yam, Kai Chi
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In this dissertation, I examine ego depletion’s effects on ethical decision making. Chapter One first provides a brief introduction and a coherent framework of my work in the area of ego depletion and behavioral ethics. Chapter Two examines how ego depletion affects employees in managerial positions. In particular, I examine how leaders’ surface acting with customers can deplete their self-control resources, and in turn affect leader-follower relationship. Chapter Three examines how ego depletion may lead to paradoxical effects in ethical decision making. In particular, I suggest that the effect of ego depletion on unethical behavior hinges on the social consensus of the unethical behavior. Whereas depleted individuals are more likely to engage in unethical behavior of comparatively low social consensus, they are less likely to engage in unethical behavior of high social consensus. Chapter Four examines the role of ego depletion in perceptions of others’ unethical behavior. In particular, I suggest that depleted targets are perceived as less unethical than non-depleted targets, and are punished less severely as a result. Finally, Chapter Five provides a critical summary of the three empirical chapters.