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What Science Tells Us About the Psychology of Whistleblowers

Whistleblowers are more likely to be male. They tend to have higher levels of education, higher salaries, and more tenure within their organization. Whistleblowers tend to be extraverts. They score low on the personality dimension of agreeableness and are more likely to have a domineering personality. Whistleblowing is viewed less favorably in “collectivistic” cultures than in “individualistic” cultures. Whistleblowers are more likely to call out abrupt, unethical behavior than unethical behavior that starts small and increases gradually. Whistleblowing represents a trade-off between the competing moral values of fairness and loyalty. Whistleblowers take the side of fairness.

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