Jul 21, 2019 | Updated: 09:46 AM EDT

Pornography Consumption Increase Unethical Behavior at Work

Jun 25, 2019 11:41 PM EDT

Pornography Consumption Increase Unethical Behavior at Work
(Photo : Micheal Carian from Flickr)

Employees who view pornography are not only costing companies millions of dollars in wasted time; they are also causing harm to the company, according to new research published in the Journal of Business Ethics.

The new study discovers that viewing pornography at work increases unethical behavior. Given unethical employee behavior is connected with several negative organizational outcomes such as fraud and collusion, employee pornography consumption is putting organizations at risk.

Melissa Lewis-Western, a Brigham Young University professor of accountancy and the co-author of the study, said that mostly, pornography is framed as an issue affecting only individuals and relationships outside a business context. However, businesses are made up of people, and people make decisions, and businesses function off the choices people make when there is a societal phenomenon that a lot of people are participating in and it negatively impacts individuals' decisions, that has the potential to impact organizational-level outcomes.

In the research, the investigators included an experiment with 200 participants and a nationally-representative survey of 1,000 other individuals. In the experiment, they tasked one group with recalling and recording their last experience viewing pornography. The team preferred not to expose partakers directly to pornography due to ethical concerns and concerns of selection and demand effects. Meanwhile, they asked members of the control group to recall and record their most recent experience exercising. Then, they employed both groups to watch the entirety of a boring 10-minute video consisting of a blue background with a monotone voice speaking with subtitles.

The team found out that 21 percent of those who had recalled their last experience viewing porn did not finish viewing the video, but lied about it. Only 8 percent of those in the control group did not finish the video and lied about it. This result represented a statistically significant 163 percent increase in shirking work and lying for those who view pornography.

The researchers also obtained similar evidence from the survey. Also, the experiment found that the rise in unethical behavior is caused by an increased propensity to dehumanize others; pornography consumption increases the viewer's propensity to view others as objects or less than human.

Among the authors of the study include former BYU graduate student, Nathan Mecham, and Professor David Wood of BYU accounting and they noted that because porn consumption causes dehumanization, the incidence of sexual harassment or hostile work environments is likely to increase with increases in employee pornography consumption and organizations need to be mindful of those risks.

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