Article | Psychological Science | November 2013

The Ergonomics of Dishonesty: The Effect of Incidental Posture on Stealing, Cheating, and Traffic Violations

by Andy J. Yap, Abbie S. Wazlawek, Brian J. Lucas, Amy J.C. Cuddy and Dana R. Carney

Abstract

Can the structure of our everyday environment lead us to behave dishonestly? Four studies found that expansive postures incidentally imposed by our ordinary living environment lead to increases in dishonest behavior. The first three experiments found that individuals who engaged in expansive postures were more likely to steal money, cheat on a test, and commit traffic violations in a driving simulation. We also demonstrated that participants' sense of power mediated this effect. The final study found that automobiles with more expansive drivers' seats were more likely to be illegally parked on New York City streets. These findings are consistent with research showing that (a) postural expansiveness leads to a psychological and physiological state of power and (b) power leads to corrupt behavior.

Keywords: design; dishonesty; embodiment; human factors; Nonverbal Behavior; Power; Design; Behavior; Crime and Corruption; Situation or Environment; Power and Influence;

Citation:

Yap, Andy J., Abbie S. Wazlawek, Brian J. Lucas, Amy J.C. Cuddy, and Dana R. Carney. "The Ergonomics of Dishonesty: The Effect of Incidental Posture on Stealing, Cheating, and Traffic Violations." Psychological Science 24, no. 11 (November 2013): 2281–2289.