The Entitlement Trap: Understanding the Psychology Behind White-Collar Crime

By Dave Oswald

White-collar crime, defined as non-violent crimes committed by individuals or corporations for financial gain, has become an increasingly common occurrence in modern society.

Entitlement is the belief that one deserves special treatment or privileges, regardless of whether or not they have earned them. This sense of entitlement can manifest in many ways, such as expecting a higher salary than one’s peers, or feeling that the rules do not apply to oneself. In the context of white-collar crime, entitlement can lead individuals to rationalize their actions, convincing themselves that they are simply taking what they are owed, or that their actions are justified by their position of power.

Research has shown that individuals who feel entitled are more likely to engage in unethical behavior, particularly if they feel that they have been treated unfairly or that their status has been threatened. This is particularly true in the context of white-collar crime, where individuals may feel that they are entitled to the wealth and success that comes with their position, and that the rules that apply to others do not apply to them.

In addition to feelings of entitlement, other psychological factors may also contribute to white-collar crime. For example, individuals who lack empathy or have a disregard for the well-being of others may be more likely to engage in fraudulent behavior, as they do not see the harm they are causing as a significant issue. Similarly, individuals who have a high level of risk tolerance may be more willing to engage in behavior that is unethical or illegal, as they believe that the potential rewards outweigh the risks.

Despite these psychological factors, it is important to note that white-collar crime is not inevitable. Organizations can take steps to create a culture that values ethical behavior and holds individuals accountable for their actions. This can include implementing strict ethical standards, providing training and support for employees, and establishing clear channels for reporting unethical behavior.

Overall, it is important to understand the psychological factors that drive white-collar crime, including a sense of entitlement, lack of empathy, and high risk tolerance. By recognizing these factors, organizations can take steps to prevent unethical behavior and promote a culture of ethical decision-making