The psychology of whistleblowing

James Dungan, Adam Waytz*, Liane Young

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Whistleblowing - reporting another person's unethical behavior to a third party - represents an ethical quandary. In some cases whistleblowing appears heroic whereas in other cases it appears reprehensible. This article describes how the decision to blow the whistle rests on the tradeoff that people make between fairness and loyalty. When fairness increases in value, whistleblowing is more likely whereas when loyalty increases in value, whistleblowing is less likely. Furthermore, we describe systematic personal, situational, and cultural factors stemming from the fairness-loyalty tradeoff that drive whistleblowing. Finally, we describe how minimizing this tradeoff and prioritizing constructive dissent can encourage whistleblowing and strengthen collectives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-133
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent opinion in psychology
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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