Does Networking Make People Feel "Dirty"? Explaining People’s Reluctance to Network through the Cognitive Frame and Moral Emotions they Associate with Networking Actions


Casciaro, Gino, and Kouchaki (2014, hereafter CGK) have proposed that people view networking actions as morally impure and therefore feel dirty when doing so, which in turn triggers a need for cleansing. In the present paper, I challenge the theoretical premise and empirical evidence presented in CGK. I first argue that the core concept of the paper (i.e., moral purity) lacks theoretical grounds and construct validity, and highlight several methodological issues that threaten the original conclusions. I then offer a different perspective on the discomfort people experience when networking. Referring to the literature on moral emotions and networking, I argue that people experience guilt when networking partly because they construe networking as the objectification of others and find support for this account in a pre-registered experiment. I finally investigate the moderating role of prosocial motives, which are predicted to alleviate feelings of guilt, but do not find evidence that such motives mitigate the guilt people experience when networking.

Zoé Ziani
Zoé Ziani

PhD in Organizational Behavior