What is the WECT Project?

The Work Experiences and Character Traits (WECT) project investigates how character, personality, emotions, and treatment by managers and co-workers affect the frequency with which workers engage in ethical and unethical behavior at their jobs. This interdisciplinary research is at the intersection of social/personality psychology and organizational behavior.

In this project, U.S. adults with full-time employment participated in a three-month online diary study about “weekly experiences in the workplace.” They first provided detailed information about their jobs and completed a battery of measures assessing various dimensions of character and personality. To measure character, we assessed a variety of individual differences that have been linked to ethical and unethical choices in prior research (e.g., guilt proneness, honesty-humility, empathic concern, moral identity, cognitive moral development). Following the initial survey, participants completed an online survey once a week for 12 week in which they reported the frequency with which they performed organizational citizenship behaviors (OCB) and counterproductive work behaviors (CWB). The OCB items assessed ethical organizational behaviors (e.g., helping co-workers with work and personal responsibilities, coming in early or staying late without pay), whereas the CWB items assessed unethical organizational behaviors (e.g., verbally or physically abusing co-workers, stealing from one’s employer). The weekly surveys also asked participants about the extent to which they experienced various emotions during the previous week, and how they were treated by managers and co-workers (e.g., the frequency of interpersonal conflict, workplace ostracism, and abusive supervision). In addition to collecting self-reports of personality and behavior, we also collected observer-reports by surveying co-workers of the participants. By examining the factor structure of and longitudinal relations among character, personality, emotions, and workplace experiences, we hope to be able to determine the ways in which these individual differences and situational influences affect ethical and unethical behavior in the workplace.

The Research Team:

The WECT Project’s Principal Investigators are:

  • Abigail T. Panter, Ph.D., Bowman and Gordon Gray Distinguished Professor of Psychology, L. L. Thurstone Psychometric Laboratory, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. http://www.unc.edu/~panter/

Other team members include:

  • Nazli Turan, Doctoral student, Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Lily Morse, Doctoral student, Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Yeonjeong Kim, Doctoral student, Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University

Please cite the WECT Project as follows:

  • Cohen, T. R. & Panter, A. T. (2011-2012). The WECT Project: Workplace experiences and character traits [project information]. Available at: http://WECTProject.org

Acknowledgements:

The WECT project was made possible through the support of Grant 15519 from The Character Project at Wake Forest University and the John Templeton Foundation to Taya R. Cohen and A. T. Panter.  http://thecharacterproject.com/winners.php