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Journal Article

The Dishonesty of Honest People: A Theory of Self-Concept Maintenance

Nina Mazar, On Amir and Dan Ariely
Journal of Marketing Research
Vol. 45, No. 6 (Dec., 2008), pp. 633-644
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20618852
Page Count: 12
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The Dishonesty of Honest People: A Theory of Self-Concept Maintenance
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Abstract

People like to think of themselves as honest. However, dishonesty pays—and it often pays well. How do people resolve this tension? This research shows that people behave dishonestly enough to profit but honestly enough to delude themselves of their own integrity. A little bit of dishonesty gives a taste of profit without spoiling a positive self-view. Two mechanisms allow for such self-concept maintenance: inattention to moral standards and categorization malleability. Six experiments support the authors' theory of self-concept maintenance and offer practical applications for curbing dishonesty in everyday life.

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