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Employees who watch porn encourage unethical behaviour


New York, Jun 25 (IANS): If you think watching porn is something which is strictly an individual choice and has nothing to do with your business, hold on. Researchers now reveal that employees who view pornography at work aren't only costing companies millions of rupees in wasted time but also causing harm to the organisations.

Since unethical employee behaviour is linked to a number of negative organisational outcomes -- like fraud and collusion -- employee pornography consumption is putting organisations at risk.

"Pornography is often framed as an issue affecting only individuals and relationships outside of a business context," said study co-author Melissa Lewis-Western, a professor of accountancy at the Utah-based Brigham Young University (BYU).

But businesses are made up of people, and people make decisions, and businesses function off the decisions people make.

"If you have a societal phenomenon that a lot of people are participating in and it negatively impacts individuals' decisions, it has the potential to impact organisational-level outcomes," she added in a paper published in the Journal of Business Ethics.

The study included an experiment with 200 participants and a nationally-representative survey of 1,000 other individuals.

One group was tasked with recalling and recording their last experience viewing pornography.

The researchers chose not to expose participants directly to pornography due to ethical concerns and concerns of selection and demand effects.

Meanwhile, members of the control group were asked to recall and record their most recent experience exercising.

Both groups were then employed to watch the entirety of a boring 10-minute video consisting of a blue background with a monotone voice speaking with subtitles.

Researchers found 21 per cent of those who had recalled their last experience viewing porn did not finish viewing the video, but lied about it.

Only 8 per cent of those in the control group did not finish the video and lied about it.

This represented a statistically significant 163 per cent increase in shirking work and lying for those who view pornography. Similar evidence was obtained from the survey.

The experiment also found that the rise in unethical behaviour is caused by an increased propensity to dehumanize others; pornography consumption increases the viewer's propensity to view others as objects or less than human.

Since porn consumption causes dehumanization, the incidence of sexual harassment or hostile work environments is likely to increase with increases in employee pornography consumption.

"Organisations should be mindful of those risks," said former BYU graduate student Nathan Mecham, now a PhD student at the University of Pittsburgh.

If you have a larger portion of your employees that are consuming pornography at work, it's likely changing their behaviours and those changes are likely negative.

Companies should have preventative controls such as Internet filters and blocking devices, policies that prohibit porn consumption at work with penalties and hire employees who are less likely to view pornography than others.

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