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Cheating in Marriage May Mean Cheating at Work

A new study has found that people who cheat on their spouses are significantly more likely to engage in misconduct in the workplace.

For the study, researchers at the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin looked at the records of police officers, financial advisers, white collar criminals, and senior executives who used the Ashley Madison marital infidelity website. Operating under the slogan “Life is short. Have an affair,” Ashley Madison advertises itself as a dating service for married people to have “discreet encounters.”

Despite promises of discreetness, the data were put in the public domain through a hack in 2015 that included 36 million user accounts, including 1 million paid users in the United States.

Researchers discovered that Ashley Madison users were more than twice as likely to engage in corporate misconduct.

“This is the first study that’s been able to look at whether there is a correlation between personal infidelity and professional conduct,” said Dr. Samuel Kruger, a finance faculty member who conducted the study with another finance faculty member, Dr. John Griffin, and Dr. Gonzalo Maturana of Emory University. “We find a strong correlation, which tells us that infidelity is informative about expected professional conduct.”

The researchers investigated four study groups totaling 11,235 individuals using data on police officers from the Citizens Police Data Project, data on financial advisers from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority BrokerCheck database, data on defendants in SEC cases from the Securities and Exchange Commission’s litigation release archives, and data on CEOs and CFOs from Execucomp.

Even after matching professionals who engaged in corporate misconduct to professionals of similar ages, genders and experiences who did not engage in corporate misconduct, the researchers found that people with histories of misconduct were significantly more likely to use the Ashley Madison website.

The findings suggest a strong connection between people’s actions in their personal and professional lives and provide support for the idea that eliminating workplace sexual misconduct may also reduce fraudulent activity, the researchers report.

“Our results show that personal sexual conduct is correlated with professional conduct,” Kruger said. “Eliminating sexual misconduct in the workplace could have the extra benefit of contributing to more ethical corporate cultures in general.”

The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

Source: The University of Texas at Austin

Cheating in Marriage May Mean Cheating at Work

Janice Wood

Janice Wood is a long-time writer and editor who began working at a daily newspaper before graduating from college. She has worked at a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites, covering everything from aviation to finance to healthcare.

APA Reference
Wood, J. (2019). Cheating in Marriage May Mean Cheating at Work. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 29, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 3 Aug 2019 (Originally: 3 Aug 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 3 Aug 2019
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