February 11, 2011 10:28 am

Something for the weekend

The age-old maxim honesty is the best policy would appear to have a basis in fact, at least when it comes to applying for a job.

Researchers at London Business School and the University of North Carolina have discovered that those applicants for a job opening who gave “a warts and all” description of their failings as well as their strengths and who were then given the job tended to be happier in their work and also showed a greater commitment to their employers.

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Daniel Cable, a visiting professor of organisational behaviour at London Business School and doctoral candidate Virginia Kay of the University of North Carolina also discovered that those who adopted a brutally honest tack with their future employers later received a more favourable performance evaluation.

Their research looked at an area of behavioural psychology known as “self verification striving”- giving a comprehensive picture of oneself, highlighting both the failings and the strengths. The academics discovered that contrary to earlier views which assumed that everyone was equally motivated to self verify, their research revealed “that some people place greater value on the process and outcomes of self verification than others”.

The academics believe that such behaviour can pay off and better job performance from those applicants who have been more open about themselves is explained because the potential employer has a more complete picture of the interviewee.

Although the concept of mental accounting - spending money differently depending on its source - is a familiar one to many, academics have been looking at emotional accounting. They suggest that how one feels about the money such as a windfall for example, determines how one then spends the money.

Jonathan Levav, associate professor of business at Columbia Business School and Peter McGraw assistant professor of marketing at Leeds School of Business, University of Colorado have discovered that if the feelings prompted by the windfall are negative ones then that money will be spent in what they describe as a virtuous way, so that individuals “launder their negative emotions”.

The pair cite the example of money acquired due to a life insurance settlement which they say could be considered “unhappy money”. Consequently they say “these negative feelings about the money will influence its use”.

The research was published in the Journal of Marketing Research.

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