Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Komarraju, Meera


In this study perceived ethical leadership was examined as a moderator of the relationship between the dark triad personality traits of narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy and counterproductive work behavior (CWB) using a sample of 208 employees recruited through Amazon Mechanical Turk. These participants completed measures of personality (Short Dark Triad; Jones & Paulhus, 2014), counterproductive workplace behavior (Counterproductive Work Behavior Checklist; Spector et al., 2006), and employee perception of their direct supervisor’s ethical leadership (Brown, Treviño, & Harrison, 2005). Participants were compensated $0.65 for completing the survey. Correlation and moderation analyses (Hayes, 2012) were used to analyze data. Significant correlations suggest that individuals scoring high on Machiavellianism and psychopathy also reported engaging in more CWB. The relationship between Narcissism and counterproductive workplace behavior approached significance in the predicted direction. Machiavellianism and psychopathy were not negatively related to the employee’s perception of their supervisor’s ethical leadership. Narcissism was significantly positively related to an employee’s perception of their supervisor’s ethical leadership. Finally, ethical leadership did not moderate the relationship between Machiavellianism or psychopathy and CWB. Ethical leadership did not moderate the relationship between Narcissism and CWB, but results were approaching significance in the predicted direction. These results suggest that employees who are manipulative and lack empathy were more likely to engage in harmful behaviors in the workplace such as abuse, production deviance, sabotage, theft, and withdrawal. Further, employees who were more narcissistic and have a grandiose view of themselves were more likely to view their leaders as ethical. Overall, the results of this study indicate that perceived ethical leadership does not affect the frequency in which employees high in narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy reported engaging in counterproductive work behaviors.




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