The psychology of the corrupt: some preliminary findings

Date01 April 2019
Published date01 April 2019
AuthorClaire Nee,Mark Button,David Shepherd,Dean Blackbourn,Sharon Leal
The psychology of the corrupt:
some preliminary ndings
Claire Nee
Department of Psychology, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK
Mark Button,David Shepherd and Dean Blackbourn
Centre for Counter Fraud Studies, University of Portsmouth,
Portsmouth, UK, and
Sharon Leal
Department of Psychology, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK
Purpose This paper aims to present ndings based on the psychological prole of 17 offenders who have been
convicted of occupational fraud, bribery or related offences. It provides ndings on their specic psychological
proles using well-established psychological techniques to gauge personality. The study is also aimed to provide
the foundations for further research on such proles, which could eventually provide a screening tool to identify
individuals who might be a higher risk of engaging in corrupt behaviours for organisations.
Design/methodology/approach The research isbased upon 17 interviews with white-collar offenders
who were also askedto complete an Eysenck Personality Questionnaireto identify their prole.
Findings This study postulates that sensation seeking, risk appetite, impulsivity and lower non-
aggressiveself-regulation dominate the E scale traits of white-collaroffenders.
Originality/value This paper is very much original in its design with few studies having been
performedin this area.
Keywords White collar crime, Occupational corruption, Psychological prole
Paper type Research paper
There are many consultancy rms offering tailoredmagic bulletsolutions to the problem
of preventing staff fraud and corruptionin exchange for large fees. There are also numerous
practitioner texts whichset out more generalised approaches that can be adapted tospecic
organisational needs, for example, Comer (2003);Giles (2012) and Wells (2007).
Unfortunately, the solutionsoffered are frequently based on dubious research or no research
at all (Levi and Burrows, 2008). Staff screening is frequently promoted as an essential
component of a counter fraud and corruption strategy (Button and Gee, 2013,p.87;Tunley
et al., 2017). The principal purpose of the screening is to lter out those individuals who
might harm the employing organisation through their fraudulent and corrupt behaviour.
Recruitment vetting processes typically involve checking qualications, experience and
employment histories. Sometimes, they include deeper enquiries into security matters,
criminal records, nances and lifestyle. Occasionally candidates are subjected to
psychometric testing (Edenborough, 2005). However, predicting white-collar crime risks
based on assessed personality traits is highly subjective, as there has been very little
research into the correlation of personality traits with white-collar criminality (Collins and
Schmidt, 1993;Blickleet al., 2006).
Journalof Financial Crime
Vol.26 No. 2, 2019
pp. 488-495
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/JFC-03-2018-0032
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