One Actually Surprising Link Between Confidence and Fraud

Low confidence is something we all deal with from time to time. When it manifests at work, though, it turns out it can produce some startingly different results.

A new study from the University of Toronto suggests that confidence is intimately tied in with cheating in the office. We already know that middle managers can get caught up in high expectations, which can drive unethical behavior. But the UT researchers found that low self-confidence can lead to altruism just as easily as it can lead to fraud.

According to a press release, "Low-confidence [study] participants avoided purchasing more expensive, environmentally friendly products, kept more cash for themselves when splitting a monetary gift with another participant than higher confidence people. They also awarded themselves significantly more unearned bonus money when checking their performance under an honor system. Well over one-third of the low-confidence people cheated, compared to 10 percent in the high-confidence condition."

However, participants who knew their decisions would be seen and scrutinized, or who felt strongly connected to their community, were far more likely to make more generous choices, with less possibility of cheating. They didn't perform as highly as high-confidence participants, but they left room for growth without acting poorly.

One way to cultivate high-confidence employees is to encourage the best possible office culture you can. That means plenty of opportunities for transparency, authenticity, and appreciation. Soft skills are important for both associates and management. They should look a lot more necessary when you consider what they prevent.