An interesting step back on ethics and values, looking how likely we are to feel guilty, and using that as an indicator of potential ethical lapses. Intuitively makes sense, and similar to some of Dan Ariely’s work (Dan Ariely on the Truth About Dishonesty, Animated), and reminder to those of us not guilt prone to find an anchor, whether from a religious text or elsewhere, to brake any tendency towards an ethical lapse.
Not surprisingly, guilt proneness seems to be correlated with certain aspects of personality. Research suggests that people who are high in guilt proneness are more likely to be sympathetic, take the perspective of others, consider the future consequences of their behavior, and value having moral traits. Furthermore, women are more guilt prone than men, and older adults are more guilt prone than younger adults.
Across several studies, Cohen, Panter, and Turan have found that people who report higher levels of guilt proneness are less likely to make unethical business decisions, lie for monetary gain, or cheat during negotiations. People who are guilt prone are also less likely to engage in counterproductive work behaviors, like showing up to work late without permission, stealing office supplies, and being rude to clients, even after taking into account other factors like gender, age, and interpersonal conflict at work.