“I won't let you down:” Personal ethical lapses arising from women's advocating for others

Maryam Kouchaki*, Laura J. Kray

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The current research examines whether women's personal ethics are compromised when representing others in strategic interactions. Across five studies (n = 1337), we demonstrate that women's ethical choices are more sensitive to whether they are representing themselves versus advocating for others compared to men's ethical choices. We find that other-advocating women are more deceptive than self-advocating women, whereas men are just as likely to engage in morally questionable behaviors when representing themselves or others. We further show that women's unethical behavior is driven by their anticipatory guilt as they seek to not let their constituents down in an advocacy role. Relative to men, women's ethical behavior when advocating on behalf of others is especially likely to reflect the presumed ethical preferences of their constituents rather than solely a reflection of their own ethical preferences. Given women's relatively high personal ethics, these results establish a risk to adopting an advocacy role for women: the social considerations inherent to advocacy put pressure on women to engage in deceptive behaviors that compromise their personal ethics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-157
Number of pages11
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
StatePublished - Jul 2018


  • Advocacy
  • Anticipatory guilt
  • Ethics
  • Gender
  • Negotiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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