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What Ashley Madison users suggest about their employers

Ashley Madison website
Carl Court | Getty Images

Surprise, surprise, adulterers tend to work for less scrupulous companies.

Researchers at Tulane and Michigan State University took leaked Ashley Madison account information, anonymized corporate email addresses and counted them to see if the percentage of employees on Ashley Madison could predict certain attributes of company culture.

The researchers found that firms with higher percentages of employees on Ashley Madison also had higher levels of innovation, risk-taking and unethical behavior. These companies saw more tax disputes with the government and accounting misstatements. These firms were also rated as less ethical by external analysts, scoring twice as high in categories like concerns on bribery and fraud.

The researchers interpreted these results as a match between individual behavior and corporate culture. Firms with more employees on Ashley Madison also had higher book leverage and credit spreads. They were also closer to default and more volatile.

However, the more interesting results were the correlations between positive firm attributes and high Ashley Madison membership. These firms were more diverse and more creative, as defined by research and development spending and number of patents.

The researchers interpreted their results in two ways. First, it's possible that firms with higher percentages of employees on Ashley Madison probably do not value or screen for high ethical standards when hiring. Or innovation and creativity are correlated with unethical behavior.

But maybe it's the other way around and successful adulterers need to be super creative to explain away their affairs and it just so happens that it's useful in the workplace, too.

Ashley Madison declined to comment.

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