How prescriptive and proscriptive motivations claims impact others' decision to trust

Bhutada, Shruti (2016) How prescriptive and proscriptive motivations claims impact others' decision to trust. Doctoral thesis, University of London: London Business School.


This dissertation investigates how a target's framing of their moral claims in terms of the positive versus negative outcomes they are concerned with - prescriptive versus proscriptive morality respectively - impacts third party attributions of the target's trustworthiness. Drawing from the social psychological scholarship on these two systems of moral motivations and organizational models of interpersonal trust, I propose that when a target makes prescriptive moral claims, they engender greater trust from third parties compared to when they make proscriptive moral claims. I examine how a third party's evaluations of the target's integrity, perceived accusation, suspicion, and affective reactions to the target's moral claims might explain such differential impact of the target's moral claims on third party attributions of trust. I further explore how the target's past ethical behaviour moderates such an effect. I test my hypotheses across seven studies. In Study 1, 2, and 3, I find that prescriptive moral claims engender greater attributions of trust compared to proscriptive moral claims in interactions where the target is in a higher, equal, and lower power position compared to the third party, respectively. In Study 4, I observe that third party evaluations of the target's integrity mediate the differential impact of moral claim type on trust. I aim to replicate the findings of Study 1-4 constructively in the field through a survey of professionals in major business districts (Study 5) and MBA students at a premier business school (Study 6), but only find limited support for my hypotheses. In Study 7, I empirically identify that information about the target's past ethical behaviour moderates the impact of moral claim type on trust, such that proscriptive moral claims engender greater third party attributions of target trustworthiness than prescriptive moral claims when information about the target's past unethical behaviour is provided. This happens even when the target is not directly responsible for the unethical behaviour. Information about past ethical behaviour attenuates the differential effect of moral claim type on interpersonal trust, suggesting a boundary condition to the proposed main effect.

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Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subject Areas: Organisational Behaviour
Date Deposited: 10 Feb 2022 16:12
Date of first compliant deposit: 10 Feb 2022
Subjects: Ethics
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2022 21:51

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