Is this the reason your employees are acting unethically?

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HR professionals who find themselves grappling with unethical or dishonest employees may want to consider the results of one U.S. study which claims to have uncovered a possible cause.

According to researchers from John Hopkins University, the University of Washington and Georgetown University, people are more inclined to lie if they’re lacking in sleep or are working at the wrong time of day.

The study’s authors came to their conclusion after analysis the results of two experiments – the first focused on behaviour in the morning while the second tested considered circadian rhythms and the time of day.

In the initial experiment, participants were required to report the number of tasks they completed – the more tasks completed, the more money they would receive.

Participants were under the false impression that their work was anonymous so there was a temptation to over-report the number of tasks they finished in order to earn more money.

In the second experiment, participants self-identified themselves as either “morning people” or “night people” and were assigned to sessions either early in the morning or late at night.

They were told to roll a die and recorded the number that appeared – the higher the number, the more money they were paid.

Although the study’s authors were unable to confirm which numbers appeared, they knew that everyone should report an average of 3.5 so any differences across conditions – like morning people rolling in the morning versus evening people rolling in the morning – would indicate cheating.

Interestingly, the subsequent investigation found that early birds were more likely to lie later in the day while night owls were more likely to cheat in the morning.

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