Dishonest Behavior May Be Influenced by Environment

First Posted: Jun 24, 2013 02:01 PM EDT

Different environments certainly have an impact on behavior, and a new study suggests that various settings may be likely to determine whether or not some are more tempted to actually steal, cheat or commit certain violations.

"In everyday working and living environments, our body postures are incidentally expanded and contracted by our surroundings - by the seats in our cars, the furniture in and around work spaces, even the hallways in our offices - and these environments directly influence the propensity of dishonest behavior in our everyday lives," said Andy Yap, a key author of the research who spearheaded its development during his time at Columbia Business School, according to a press release.

The particular study addresses how some individuals pay attention to ordinary and seemingly innocuous shifts in bodily posture, though subtle, that may have an extraordinary impact on thoughts, feelings and behavior in certain circumstances. Previous research suggests that expansive postures can cause a believed state of power that, in turn, can create dishonest behavior.

"This is a real concern. Our research shows that office managers should pay attention to the ergonomics of their work spaces. The results suggest that these physical spaces have tangible and real-world impact on our behaviors" said Andy Yap regarding the study, via the release.

The overall research examines previous studies, both looked at in the field and the laboratory. One study looked at the expansiveness of work spaces in the lab and the other tested whether changing work areas could also lead to a higher degree of dishonesty. Another study involving video-game driving simulation looked at whether or not participants would be more likely to "hit and run" when advised to go fast during simulated sequences from the game.

The press release notes that a real-world context using an observational study was used to confirm the validity of the results, to find that automobiles with more expansive driver's seats were more likely to be illegally parked on New York City streets. 

All this talk of dishonesty is making us suspicious. What do you think? 

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