Abstract

Because of the unprecedented pace of globalization, foreign experiences are increasingly common and valued. Past research has focused on the benefits of foreign experiences, including enhanced creativity and reduced intergroup bias. In contrast, the present work uncovers a potential dark side of foreign experiences: increased immoral behavior. We propose that broad foreign experiences (i.e., experiences in multiple foreign countries) foster not only cognitive flexibility but also moral flexibility. Using multiple methods (longitudinal, correlational, and experimental), 8 studies (N > 2,200) establish that broad foreign experiences can lead to immoral behavior by increasing moral relativism — the belief that morality is relative rather than absolute. The relationship between broad foreign experiences and immoral behavior was robust across a variety of cultural populations (anglophone, francophone), life stages (high school students, university students, MBA students, middle-aged adults), and 7 different measures of immorality. As individuals are exposed to diverse cultures, their moral compass may lose some of its precision.

Authors
J.G. Lu, J. Quoidbach, F. Gino, A. Chakroff, W.W. Maddux, and Adam Galinsky
Format
Journal Article
Publication Date
Journal
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Full Citation

Lu, J.G., J. Quoidbach, F. Gino, A. Chakroff, W.W. Maddux, and Adam Galinsky
. “The dark side of going abroad: How broad foreign experiences increase immoral behavior.”
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
vol.
112
, (January 01, 2017):
1
-
16
.