"Highly guilt-prone people often demonstrate more effective leadership and contribute more to the success of the teams and partnerships in which they are involved," explained Scott S. Wiltermuth, assistant professor at the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business.
However, the same behavioural tendencies may, in some instances, also lead these individuals to be reticent to enter into certain partnerships at work. Guilt proneness reduces the incidents of unethical behaviour.
"Highly guilt-prone people are conscientious. They are less likely to free ride on others' expertise and they will sacrifice financial gain out of concern about how their actions would influence others' welfare," the researchers said.
Those in supervisory roles can use these findings to create the most effective dynamics in the workplace and increase productivity. Despite highly guilt-prone people's fear that by accepting leadership roles they might put themselves into a position to let their teammates down, "managers must try to ensure that highly guilt-prone people are creating the partnerships and perhaps even assuming leadership roles on teams," Wiltermuth said.
This can lead towards team building and increase productivity, concluded the author in a paper published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.