Area of Expertise
- Business Ethics
- Moral Identity
- Organizational Justice
- Perception of Artificial Intelligence
Dr. Luke Zhu is an Associate Professor of Organization Studies at the Schulich School of Business, York University, Toronto.
Dr. Zhu’s research and teaching focus on business ethics, diversity, and artificial intelligence, which include empirical investigations of the psychological and sociological underpinnings of employee (un)ethical behaviours at work, causes and interventions of gender and race discrimination in organizations, and integration of artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace. Dr. Zhu’s research has been published in many peer-reviewed, high-impact journals in the field of organizational behaviour, such as the Journal of Applied Psychology and Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes (OBHDP), in psychology, such as Cognition and the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, and in interdisciplinary journals such as the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), an outlet which acknowledges only the most important scientific endeavors. In addition to academic outlets, Dr. Zhu’s research has also been featured in, among others, the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, and the Guardian.
Dr. Zhu currently serves as an Associate Editor at Group & Organization Management and an Editorial Board Member of OBHDP and the Journal of Vocational Behaviour. He is also an ad-hoc reviewer for many other journals such as Administrative Science Quarterly, Organization Science, the Journal of Applied Psychology, and the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
2018 Certificate of Outstanding Contribution in Reviewing for the Journal of Vocational Behaviour
2015 Associates’ Achievement Award – Research, University of Manitoba
2014 Best Student Paper in Gender and Diversity Program in Organizations, Academy of Management Annual Conference
2009-2013 Dean Earle D MacPhee Memorial Fellowship in Commerce and Business Administration, University of British Columbia
2009 Vinod K Sood Memorial Fellowship, University of British Columbia
2009 Sauder School of Business Graduate Award, University of British Columbia
Aquino, K., Yang, C., You, H. and Zhu, L. (2021), "Identity Affirmation as a Response to Justice Failure", Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 156, 53-68.
This paper examines how and why third parties respond to the failure of worldly justice when offenders go unpunished. We propose that justice failure threatens third parties’ perceived control and motivates them to regain control by affirming alternative sources of control. We further propose that third parties can regain control by affirming important identities. Supporting our hypotheses, studies demonstrated that exposure to justice failure resulted in greater prosociality by third parties via perceived control, but only if they were high in moral identity. Similarly, via perceived control, exposure to justice failure also resulted in greater favoritism by third parties toward their organizations, but only if they were high in organizational identity. Implications of these findings for management practice and future research are discussed.
Aquino, K., Baumeister, R.F., Howard, C., Kim, J., Okimoto, T., Reynolds, T., Sjåstad, H. and Zhu, L. (2020), "Man up and take it: Gender bias in Moral Typecasting", Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 161, 120-141.
Informed by moral typecasting theory, we predicted a gender bias in harm evaluation, such that women are more easily categorized as victims and men as perpetrators. Study 1 participants assumed a harmed target was female (versus male), but especially when labeled ‘victim’. Study 2 participants perceived animated shapes perpetuating harm as male and victimized shapes as female. Study 3 participants assumed a female employee claiming harassment was more of a victim than a male employee making identical claims. Female victims were expected to experience more pain from an ambiguous joke and male perpetrators were prescribed harsher punishments (Study 4). Managers were perceived as less moral when firing female (versus male) employees (Study 5). The possibility of gender discrimination intensified the cognitive link between women and victimhood (Study 6). Across six studies in four countries (N = 3,137), harm evaluations were systematically swayed by targets’ gender, suggesting a gender bias in moral typecasting.
Leavitt, K., Restubog, S.L.D., Wang, M., Zhou, L. and Zhu, L. (2020), "Lead the Horse to Water, but Don’t Make Him Drink: The Effects of Moral Identity Symbolization on Coworker Behavior Depend on Perceptions of Proselytization", Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 156, 53-68.
We propose that exposure to moral identity symbolization (i.e., outwardly projected displays of one’s morality) leads observers to increase their helping behavior because they perceive the symbolizer as more scrutinizing of their moral characters, especially when observers expect or have an ongoing relationship with the symbolizer. We further propose that the effect of moral identity symbolization on observer behavior is diminished when symbolization involves behaviors that threaten the autonomy of observers (i.e., moral proselytizing). Empirical data from four studies, consisting of field surveys and experiments, supports our hypotheses. Taken together, this research suggests that moral identity symbolization in the workplace leads to helping behavior in observers as a function of heightened perceptions of moral scrutiny, but that such outward display of morality is only related to helping behavior when the symbolizers avoid proselytizing and when there is an ongoing relationship between the observers and the symbolizers.
Aquino, K., Reynolds, T., Strejcek, B. and Zhu, L. (2020), "Dual Pathways to Bias: Evaluators’ Ideology and Ressentiment Independently Predict Racial Discrimination in Hiring Contexts", Journal of Applied Psychology.
Despite organizations’ professed commitment to fairness, thousands of employees file race-based discrimination claims every year. The current article examines how people deviate from impartiality when evaluating candidates in hiring decisions. Researchers have argued the ideological endorsement of elitism (i.e., scoring high in social dominance orientation) can lead to discrimination against racial minorities. We examined whether an opposing ideological commitment—egalitarianism—can also produce partiality, but in favor of minority applicants. Inspired by dual processing models and Nietzsche’s philosophical theorizing, we also forwarded and tested a novel, affective predictor of racial biases in evaluation: ressentiment toward the socially powerful. Across 4 studies, we found evaluators’ ideologies and ressentiment independently shaped evaluations of equally qualified candidates in hiring contexts. Participants who endorsed elitism showed a preference for White candidates, whereas those who endorsed egalitarianism evaluated Black candidates more favorably. Individuals who experienced stronger ressentiment toward the social elite also preferred Black over White applicants. Studies 3 and 4 tested and supported a novel intervention—inducing a calculative mindset—as a method for attenuating evaluators’ ideological and ressentiment driven impartiality.
Alexandra, T., Beauregad, L.L., Booth, J.E., Emery, C., Gu, F., Park, T.Y. and Zhu, L. (2017), "Prosocial Response to Client-Instigated Victimization: The Roles of Forgiveness and Workgroup Conflict", Journal of Applied Psychology, 103(5), 513-536.
We investigate forgiveness as a human service employee coping response to client-instigated victimizations and further explore the role of workgroup conflict in (a) facilitating this response, and (b) influencing the relationship between victimization and workplace outcomes. Using the theoretical lens of Conservation of Resources (Hobfoll, 1989), we propose that employees forgive clients—especially in the context of low workgroup conflict. From low to moderate levels of client-instigated victimization, we suggest that victimization and forgiveness are positively related; however, this positive relationship does not prevail when individuals confront egregious levels of victimization (i.e., an inverted-U shape). This curvilinear relationship holds under low but not under high workgroup conflict. Extending this model to workplace outcomes, findings also demonstrate that the indirect effects of victimization on job satisfaction, burnout, and turnover intentions are mediated by forgiveness when workgroup conflict is low. Experiment- and field-based studies provide evidence for the theoretical model.
Awtrey, E., Bivolaru, E., Dana, J., Davis-Strober, C., Diermeier, D., du Plessis, C., Gronau, Q.F., Hafenbrack, A.C., Heinze, J.E., Jordan, J., Mada, N., Schweinsberg, M., Sommer, S.A., Tannenbaum, D., Tierney, W., Uhlmann, E.L., Vianello, M. and Zhu, L. (2016), "The Pipeline Project: Prepublication Independent Replications of a Single Laboratory’s Research Pipeline", Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 66, 55-67.
This crowdsourced project introduces a collaborative approach to improving the reproducibility of scientific research, in which findings are replicated in qualified independent laboratories before (rather than after) they are published. Our goal is to establish a non-adversarial replication process with highly informative final results. To illustrate the Pre-Publication Independent Replication (PPIR) approach, 25 research groups conducted replications of all ten moral judgment effects which the last author and his collaborators had “in the pipeline” as of August 2014. Six findings replicated according to all replication criteria, one finding replicated but with a significantly smaller effect size than the original, one finding replicated consistently in the original culture but not outside of it, and two findings failed to find support. In total, 40% of the original findings failed at least one major replication criterion. Potential ways to implement and incentivize pre-publication independent replication on a large scale are discussed.
Aquino, K., Leavitt, K. and Zhu, L. (2016), "Good Without Knowing It: Subtle Contextual Cues Can Activate Moral Identity and Reshape Moral Intuition", Journal of Business Ethics, 137, 785-800.
The role of moral intuition (i.e., a set of implicit processes which occur automatically and at the fringe of conscious awareness) has been increasingly implicated in business decisions and (un)ethical business behavior. But troublingly, because implicit processes often operate outside of conscious awareness, decision makers are generally unaware of their influence. We tested whether subtle contextual cues for identity can alter implicit beliefs. In two studies, we found that contextual cues which nonconsciously prime moral identity weaken the implicit association between the categories of “business” and “ethical,” an implicit association which has previously been linked to unethical decision making. Further, changes in this implicit association mediated the relationship between contextually primed moral identity and concern for external stakeholder groups, regardless of self-reported moral identity. Thus, our results show that subtle contextual cues can lead individuals to render more ethical judgments, by automatically restructuring moral intuition below the level of consciousness.
Brescoll, V.L., Newman, G., Uhlmann, E.L. and Zhu, L. (2015), "Macho Nachos: The Implicit Effects of Gendered Food Packaging on Preferences for Healthy and Unhealthy Foods", Social Psychology, 46, 182-196.
The present studies examine how culturally held stereotypes about gender (that women eat more healthfully than men) implicitly influence food preferences. In Study 1, priming masculinity led both male and female participants to prefer unhealthy foods, while priming femininity led both male and female participants to prefer healthy foods. Study 2 extended these effects to gendered food packaging. When the packaging and healthiness of the food were gender schema congruent (i.e., feminine packaging for a healthy food, masculine packaging for an unhealthy food) both male and female participants rated the product as more attractive, said that they would be more likely to purchase it, and even rated it as tasting better compared to when the product was stereotype incongruent. In Study 3, packaging that explicitly appealed to gender stereotypes (“The muffin for real men”) reversed the schema congruity effect, but only among participants who scored high in psychological reactance.
Aquino, K., Frimer, J.A., Gebauer, J.E., Oakes, H. and Zhu, L. (2015), "A Decline in Prosocial Language Helps Explain Public Disapproval of the U.S. Congress", PNAS: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112, 6591-6594.
Talking about helping others makes a person seem warm and leads to social approval. This work examines the real world consequences of this basic, social-cognitive phenomenon by examining whether record-low levels of public approval of the US Congress may, in part, be a product of declining use of prosocial language during Congressional debates. A text analysis of all 124 million words spoken in the House of Representatives between 1996 and 2014 found that declining levels of prosocial language strongly predicted public disapproval of Congress 6 mo later. Warm, prosocial language still predicted public approval when removing the effects of societal and global factors (e.g., the September 11 attacks) and Congressional efficacy (e.g., passing bills), suggesting that prosocial language has an independent, direct effect on social approval.
Aquino, K., Vadera, A.K. and Zhu, L. (2015), "What Makes Professor Appear Credible: The Effect of Demographic Characteristics and Ideological Beliefs", Journal of Applied Psychology, 101, 862-880.
Five studies are conducted to examine how ideology and perceptions regarding gender, race, caste, and affiliation status affect how individuals judge researchers’ credibility. Support is found for predictions that individuals judge researcher credibility according to their egalitarian or elitist ideologies and according to status cues including race, gender, caste, and university affiliation. Egalitarians evaluate low-status researchers as more credible than high-status researchers. Elitists show the opposite pattern. Credibility judgments affect whether individuals will interpret subsequent ambiguous events in accordance with the researcher’s findings. Effects of diffuse status cues and ideological beliefs may be mitigated when specific status cues are presented to override stereotypes.
Diermeier, D., Uhlmann, E.L. and Zhu, L. (2014), "When Actions Speak Volumes: The Role of Inferences About Moral Character in Outrage Over Racial Bigotry", European Journal of Social Psychology, 44(1), 23-29.Keywords
Inferences about moral character may often drive outrage over symbolic acts of racial bigotry. Study 1 demonstrates a theoretically predicted dissociation between moral evaluations of an act and the person who carries out the act. Although Americans regarded the private use of a racial slur as a less blameworthy act than physical assault, use of a slur was perceived as a clearer indicator of poor moral character. Study 2 highlights the dynamic interplay between moral judgments of acts and persons, demonstrating that first making person judgments can bias subsequent act judgments. Privately defacing a picture of Martin Luther King, Jr. led to greater moral condemnation of the agent than of the act itself only when the behavior was evaluated first. When Americans first made character judgments, symbolically defacing a picture of the civil rights leader was significantly more likely to be perceived as an immoral act. These studies support a person‐centered account of outrage over bigotry and demonstrate that moral evaluations of acts and persons converge and diverge under theoretically meaningful circumstances.
Brescoll, V.L., Newman, G., Uhlmann, E.L. and Zhu, L. (2014), "System Justifying Motives Can Lead to Both the Acceptance and Rejection of the Innate Explanations for Group Differences", Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 37, 503-504.
Recent experimental evidence indicates that intuitions about inherence and system justification are distinct psychological processes, and that the inherence heuristic supplies important explanatory frameworks that are accepted or rejected based on their consistency with one’s motivation to justify the system
Uhlmann, E.L. and Zhu, L. (2014), "Acts, Persons, and Intuitions: Person-centered Cues and Gut Reactions to Harmless Transgressions", Social Psychological and Personality Science, 5, 279-285.Keywords
Negative gut reactions to harmless-but-offensive transgressions can be driven by inferences about the moral character of the agent more so than condemnation of the act itself. Dissociations between moral judgments of acts and persons emerged, such that participants viewed a harmless-but-offensive transgression to be a less immoral act than a harmful act, yet more indicative of poor moral character. Participants were more likely to become “morally dumbfounded” when asked to justify their judgments of a harmless-but-offensive act relative to a harmful act. However, they were significantly less likely to become morally dumbfounded when asked to justify character judgments of persons who engaged in the harmless-but-offensive transgression, an effect based in part on the information-rich nature of such behaviors. Distinguishing between evaluations of acts and persons helps account for both moral outrage over harmless transgressions and when individuals are (and are not) at a loss to explain their own judgments.
Tannenbaum, D., Uhlmann, E.L. and Zhu, L. (2013), "When it Takes a Bad Person to Do the Right Thing", Cognition, 126, 326-334.
Three studies demonstrate that morally praiseworthy behavior can signal negative information about an agent’s character. In particular, consequentialist decisions such as sacrificing one life to save an even greater number of lives can lead to unfavorable character evaluations, even when they are viewed as the preferred course of action. In Study 1, throwing a dying man overboard to prevent a lifeboat from sinking was perceived as the morally correct course of action, but led to negative aspersions about the motivations and personal character of individuals who carried out such an act. In Studies 2 and 3, a hospital administrator who decided not to fund an expensive operation to save a child (instead buying needed hospital equipment) was seen as making a pragmatic and morally praiseworthy decision, but also as deficient in empathy and moral character.
Uhlmann, E.L. and Zhu, L. (2013), "Money is Essential: Ownership Intuitions are Linked to Physical Currency", Cognition, 127, 220-229.
Due to basic processes of psychological essentialism and contagion, one particular token of monetary currency is not always interchangeable with another piece of currency of equal economic value. When money loses its physical form it is perceived as “not quite the same” money (i.e., to have partly lost the original essence that distinguished it from other monetary tokens), diminishing its intuitive link with its original owner. Participants were less likely to recommend stolen or lost money be returned when it had been subsequently deposited in an electronic bank account, as opposed to retaining its original physical form (Studies 1a and 1b). Conversely, an intuitive sense of ownership is enhanced through physical contact with a piece of hard currency. Participants felt the piece of currency a person had originally lost should be returned to him rather than another piece of currency of equivalent value, even when they did not believe he would be able to tell the difference and considered distinguishing it from other money illogical. This effect was reduced when the currency had been sterilized, wiping it clean of all physical traces of its previous owner (Studies 2a, 2b, and 3).
Ashford, S.J., Heaphy, E., Sanchez-Burks, J., Uhlmann, E.L. and Zhu, L. (2013), "How Culturally Bounded Norms Regarding Non-work Role Referencing Shape Perceived Professionalism and Hiring Evaluations", Journal of Organizational Behavior, 34, 866-886.
This article presents three studies examining how cross-cultural variation in assumptions about the appropriateness of referencing non-work roles while in work settings create consequential impressions that affect professional outcomes. Study 1 reveals a perceived norm limiting the referencing of non-work roles at work and provides evidence that it is a U.S. norm by showing that awareness of it varies as a function of tenure living in the United States. Studies 2 and 3 examine the implications of the norm for evaluations of job candidates. Study 2 finds that U.S. but not Indian participants negatively evaluate job candidates who endorse non-work role referencing as a strategy to create rapport, and shows that this cultural difference is largest among participants most familiar with norms of professionalism, those with prior recruiting experience. Study 3 finds that corporate job recruiters from the U.S. negatively evaluate candidates who endorse non-work role referencing as a means of building rapport with a potential business partner. This research underlines the importance of navigating initial interactions in culturally appropriate ways to facilitate the development of longer-term collaborations and negotiation success.
Eibach, R., Kay, A.C. and Zhu, L. (2013), "A Test of the Flexible Ideology Hypothesis: System Justification Motives Interact with Ideological Cueing to Predict Political Judgments", Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49(4), 755-758.
We hypothesize that the system justification motive increases individuals’ susceptibility to ideological priming effects. We tested this hypothesis in a sample of 308 participants in which system justification, accessibility of meritocratic or egalitarian ideology, and judgment of a meritocratic or equal funding system were manipulated. As predicted, when the system justifying motive was activated, participants primed with meritocracy (egalitarianism) judged a meritocratic (equal) funding system as relatively more fair. The same pattern was not found when system justification motives were not activated. Theoretical implications are discussed.
Aquino, K., Martens, J.P. and Zhu, L. (2012), "Third Party Responses to Justice Failure: An Identity-based Meaning Maintenance Model", Organizational Psychology Review, 2(2), 129-151.
We propose a model that explores the consequences of justice failure. We conceptualize justice failure as a threat to meaning and suggest belief in a just world and justice climate as two moderators for the proposed relationship. We propose that individuals react to justice failure by engaging in fluid compensation and that third parties are more likely than victims of justice failure to engage in this process. We further propose that identity influences individuals’ reaction to justice failure such that individuals high in moral identity are more likely to affirm their moral domain than other domains. As a result of fluid compensation, we finally propose that individuals who affirm their moral domain are (a) more likely to act morally and less likely to act immorally (b) more punitive towards others who violate social norms and (c) more supportive of corporate social responsibility programs. Implications and future research directions are discussed.
Bloom, P., Pizarro, D.A., Uhlmann, E.L. and Zhu, L. (2012), "Blood is Thicker: Moral Spillover Effects Based on Kinship.", Cognition, 124, 239-243.
Three empirical studies document the intuitive spillover of moral taint from a person who engages in immoral acts to another individual who is related by ties of blood kinship. In Study 1, participants were more likely to recommend that the biological grandchild of a wrongdoer, compared to a non-biological grandchild, help the descendants of his grandfather’s victims. In Study 2, participants were more willing to hold two long-lost identical twins in custody for a crime committed by one twin than to hold two perfect look-alikes for a crime committed by one look-alike. Study 3 provides direct evidence that spillover effects based on blood kinship are manifested in an intuitive sense of moral taint.
Project Title Role Award Amount Year Awarded Granting Agency Project Title Role Award Amount$ Year Awarded2018-2023 Granting AgencySSHRC Insight Grant Project Title Role Award Amount$ Year Awarded2017-2018 Granting AgencyUM/SSHRC Research Grant, University of Manitoba Project Title Role Award Amount$ Year Awarded2016-2017 Granting AgencyUM/SSHRC Research Grant, University of Manitoba