Amidst all the flak that cheaters and shoplifters get, researchers have been able to establish via a study that people with an affinity for committing such moral transgressions are also seen as ones less capable of completing tasks effectively.
Not just that, they are also perceived as people who aren't able to do even their own jobs and are low when it comes to social intelligence levels too, says the study.
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It's no secret that once busted, people who have acted or act immorally are simply less well-liked, and the study implied as much. But it also revealed that these people struggle to get along with their colleagues and create a healthy work-environment, apart from being incompetent.
The study that is now published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology was conducted by a team via a series of six experiments that involved more than 1,500 participants. For the experiments, researchers showed individuals acting immorally in numerous hypothetical situations.
This involved shoplifting, acting selfishly in economic games, or something as simple as cheating on a lab task or receiving low morality ratings from coworkers.
The results showed that people who had acted immorally were consistently rated as less capable of doing their jobs. They were also, when it came to their work, labelled less competent than someone who had acted morally – say, donated to a charity.
"Social intelligence is often conceived of as the ability to manage complex social situations," said lead author Jennifer Stellar from the University of Toronto in Canada.
"It includes characteristics such as taking the others' perspectives, being adaptable, managing impressions of oneself and adhering to established social norms," she added.
"A person who is socially intelligent would understand when and why a co-worker is angry and effectively manage their co-worker's potentially destructive emotional response," she explained.
Stellar said while most people rated immoral behaviour in one's private life as irrelevant when it came to determining their work-competence. She added that when provided with the moral information, these people didn't hesitate to use it to determine competence.