August 7, 2019
Once a cheater, always a cheater? There may be some truth to that old saw. People who “two-time” their spouses are significantly more likely to engage in misconduct in the workplace, according to a study conducted by the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin and published in the July 2019 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
According to a report by Phys Org, the researchers looked at the records of police officers, financial advisers, white-collar criminals and senior executives who used the Ashley Madison dating website. Operating under the slogan “Life is short. Have an affair,” Ashley Madison advertises itself as a dating service for married people who wish to have “discreet encounters.”
The McCombs study, entitled Personal Infidelity and Professional Conduct in 4 Settings, found that Ashley Madison users in the professional settings were more than twice as likely to engage in corporate misconduct.
“This is the first study that’s been able to look at whether there is a correlation between personal infidelity and professional conduct,” author Samuel Kruger of the McCombs Finance Department said. “We find a strong correlation, which tells us that infidelity is informative about expected professional conduct.”
The researchers investigated four study groups totaling 11,235 individuals using data on police officers from the Citizens Police Data Project, data on financial advisers from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority BrokerCheck database, data on defendants in SEC cases from the Securities and Exchange Commission’s litigation release archives, and data on CEOs and CFOs from Execucomp.
Even after matching professionals guilty of misconduct to misconduct-free individuals of similar ages, gender, and experiences—and controlling for a wide range of executive and cultural variables,—the researchers found that people with histories of misconduct were significantly more likely to use the Ashley Madison website.
Their findings suggest a strong connection between people’s actions in their personal and professional lives and provide support for the idea that eliminating workplace sexual misconduct may also reduce fraudulent activity.
“Our results show that personal sexual conduct is correlated with professional conduct,” Kruger said. “Eliminating sexual misconduct in the workplace could have the extra benefit of contributing to more ethical corporate cultures in general.”
Research contact: @UTexasBBA