Moral disengagement, the dark triad and unethical consumer attitudes
journal contributionposted on 23.04.2015, 14:10 by Vincent Egan, Natalie Hughes, Emma J. Palmer
Purpose: Bandura’s theory of moral disengagement explains how otherwise ethical persons can behave immorally. We examined whether a trait model of general personality and the “dark triad” underlay moral disengagement, the relationship these constructs have to unethical consumer attitudes, and whether moral disengagement provided incremental validity in the prediction of antisocial behaviour. Methods: Self-report data were obtained from a community sample of 380 adults via an online survey that administered all measures. Results: Correlations between unethical consumer attitudes, lower Agreeableness, lower Conscientiousness, higher moral disengagement, higher psychopathy, and higher Machiavellianism were captured by a single factor. When this broad factor was examined using regression, demographic, personality and the dark triad traits all predicted moral disengagement, specific influences being age, education, Intellect, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism. A similar model examining predictors of unethical consumer attitudes again found all blocks contributed to the outcome, with specific influence provided by age, Intellect, and moral disengagement, the latter showing incremental validity as a predictor of unethical consumer attitudes. Conclusions: Moral disengagement is based on low Agreeableness, Machiavellianism and psychopathic-type traits, but provides incremental validity in predicting antisocial attitudes to a trait model alone. Narcissism is neither related to moral disengagement, nor unethical consumer attitudes.