Some rules should be broken: Developing a measure of constructive rule beliefs

Senlin Zhang*, Peter O'Connor, Elliroma Gardiner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this study we developed a scale to measure individual differences in constructive rule beliefs; a newly defined construct that is thought to underlie morally justifiable forms of rule-breaking behavior. To develop and validate the scale, we recruited a sample of workers (N = 291) who completed an online survey comprised of demographic questions, a large pool of newly developed questions assessing constructive rule beliefs, and a set of questions measuring hypothetical rule-breaking behavior. Using an exploratory factor analysis, we found support for a two-dimensional factor structure, with the first factor reflecting rule relativity beliefs (i.e. the belief that rules should guide rather than dictate behavior) and the second reflecting beliefs about the purpose and idealized nature of rules. Construct validity was tested by exploring whether the two factors correlate with hypothetical rule-breaking behavior. We found that only the first dimension (rule relativity beliefs) was strongly associated with rule-breaking. We discuss the importance of constructive rule beliefs in understanding a range of rule-related behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112145
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Behavior
  • Cognition
  • Rule beliefs
  • Rule-breaking
  • Scale development


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