Sorry I can't work today: I have bad genes

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It can be hard to pinpoint why someone is inclined to abuse their sick leave privileges, but a group of researchers have put forward a new explanation – genetics – and they have a study to back up their claim.

A team of researchers led by Peter Loewen from Toronto University studied more than 2,000 Swedish twins and found that people’s approval or disapproval of everyday dishonest behaviours has a genetic component.

The 2,273 individuals from same-sex twin pairs were asked about the acceptability of claiming sick benefits when healthy, avoiding paying for public transport, avoiding paying taxes and accepting bribes on the job.

The results showed that genes accounted for 42.5% of their attitudes towards claiming unnecessary sick leave whereas for avoiding taxes genes accounted for 26%.

Researchers said other factors influencing the participants’ attitudes included their individual experiences and environments.

The study is to be published in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization.

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