Perilous and unaccountable: the positive relationship between dominance and moral hazard behaviors

Brady, G L, Kakkar, H and Sivanathan, N (2024) Perilous and unaccountable: the positive relationship between dominance and moral hazard behaviors. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. ISSN 0022-3514 (In Press) OPEN ACCESS


Moral hazard involves a context where decision-makers engage in behaviors that prioritize self-interest while allowing the associated risk to be primarily borne by others. Such decision-making can lead to catastrophic consequences, as seen in the 2008 global financial crisis after hedge fund managers indiscriminately invested their clients’ money in subprime mortgages. This research examines which decision-makers are most likely to engage in moral hazard decision-making and the psychological mechanism driving this behavior. Drawing on the dual model of social influence, we posit that individuals associated with dominance, but not prestige, will engage in greater moral hazard behaviors. We further contend that these behaviors are driven by dominant decision-makers’ enhanced focus on end goals (outcomes) rather than the means (process) that they use to pursue such goals. We find support for our hypotheses across 13 studies (NObservations = 26,880; of which eight were pre-registered and six studies are reported in the Supplementary Information (SI)), using both correlational and experimental designs. Additionally, we vary the moral hazard context (e.g., a financial setting, a health and safety issue, etc.) and capture both behavioral intentions and actual behaviors, while also ruling out several alternative explanations. These findings demonstrate that dominant decision-makers engage in moral hazard behaviors because of their tendency to prioritize outcomes over processes.

More Details

[error in script]
Item Type: Article
Subject Areas: Organisational Behaviour
Additional Information:

© American Psychological Association, 2024. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. The final article is available at:

Date Deposited: 31 Jan 2024 16:22
Date of first compliant deposit: 30 Jan 2024
Subjects: People (Behavioural science)
Last Modified: 06 Apr 2024 00:48
[error in script] More

Export and Share


Accepted Version - Text


View details on Dimensions' website

Downloads from LBS Research Online

View details

Actions (login required)

Edit Item Edit Item