Punishing High-status Deviants: The Role Of Transgression Severity And Betrayal

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Executive Summary

Evaluations of workplace deviant behavior are often biased by the personal characteristics of both deviants and sanctioners. In this paper, the authors focus on the characteristics of deviants and investigate the conditions under which sanctioners are more lenient towards deviants of high social status than low-status wrongdoers. They experimentally test the hypothesis that the severity of misbehavior determines the strength of punishment recommended for high-as compared to low-status wrongdoers. Results supported the hypothesized interactive effect of severity and deviant status on recommended punishments. For work-related transgressions of low severity, high status "Shields" the deviant from harsh evaluations and sanctions.

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