Revisiting Behavioral Integrity: Progress and New Directions after 20 Years

Tony Simons, Hannes Leroy, Lisa Nishii

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
160 Downloads (Pure)


Behavioral integrity (BI) describes the extent to which an observer believes that an actor's words tend to align with their actions. It considers whether the actor is seen as keeping promises and enacting the same values they espouse. Although the construct of BI was introduced in 1999 and developed more fully in 2002, it builds on the work of earlier scholars that discussed related notions of hypocrisy, credibility, and gaps between espousal and enactment. Since the 2002 paper, a growing literature has established the BI construct, largely but not exclusively in the leadership realm, as a critical antecedent to positive attitudes such as trust and commitment, positive behaviors such as turnover and performance, and as a moderator of the effectiveness of leadership initiatives. BI is by definition subjectively assessed, and perceptions of BI are susceptible to various forms of perceptual biases. A variety of factors appear to affect whether observers interpret a particular word-Action alignment or gap as an indication of the actor's high or low BI. In this article, we examine and synthesize this literature and suggest directions for future research. We discuss the early history of BI research and then examine contemporary research at the individual, group, and organizational levels of analysis. We assess what we have learned and what methodological challenges and theoretical questions remain to be addressed. We hope in this way to stimulate further research on this consequential construct.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-389
Number of pages25
JournalAnnual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior
Early online date8 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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