[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In contrast to other well-known cognitive models of moral decision-making, social cognitive theory posits that individuals can disengage from their own moral standards thereby allowing themselves to commit immoral acts. While previous research largely supports the general premise of moral disengagement, we suggest that direct tests of moral disengagement processes and the commensurate diminished role of moral knowledge are conspicuously absent. In five studies, we use multiple methods to capture both knowledge of the immorality of an act and theorized in situ processes of moral disengagement. Ultimately, we find no evidence of the proposed processes associated with moral disengagement. Furthermore, our data suggests that moral knowledge is a key driver of moral behavior in everyday situations and is not easily set aside. We conclude by discussing the implications of this research for theory and practice.
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 01/2014; 123(2):124–137. · 3.13 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Whereas previous research has shown that ego depletion can lead to an increase in unethical behavior, we suggest that this effect hinges on the social consensus of the unethical behavior. Drawing from theories on social consensus and dual-process decision-making, we hypothesize and confirm that ego depletion is associated with increased unethical behavior of comparatively low social consensus. We then find that, as hypothesized, ego depletion is associated with decreased unethical behavior of high social consensus (Studies 1 and 2). Results further suggest that, controlling for state self-control resources, depleted participants are less likely to engage in unethical behavior of high social consensus as a result of increased subjective fatigue (Study 3). Taken together, our findings challenge a widely-held assumption about the negative effects of ego depletion on ethical decision making.
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 01/2014; 124(2):204–214. · 3.13 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We conducted five studies to examine the effects of physiological deprivation on unethical behavior. Consistent with predictions from Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory, we found that physiologically deprived participants engaged in unethical behavior related to obtaining physiological satiation. Contrary to models in which deprivation increases global unethical behavior, hungry and thirsty participants also engaged in less physiologically-unrelated unethical behavior compared to control participants (Studies 1–3). Studies 4 and 5 confirmed that the effects of physiological deprivation on both types of unethical behavior were mediated by a heightened engagement of the Behavioral Approach System (BAS). In addition, we found that the salience of an organizational ethical context acted as a boundary condition for the mediated effect. Participants reminded of the organizational ethical context were less likely to engage in need-related unethical behavior even when physiologically deprived. We conclude by considering the theoretical and practical implications of this research.
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 01/2014; · 3.13 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To better illuminate aspects of stress that are relevant to the moral domain, we present a definition and theoretical model of “moral stress.” Our definition posits that moral stress is a psychological state born of an individual’s uncertainty about his or her ability to fulfill relevant moral obligations. This definition assumes a self-and-others relational basis for moral stress. Accordingly, our model draws from a theory of the self (identity theory) and a theory of others (stakeholder theory) to suggest that this uncertainty arises as a manager faces competing claims for limited resources from multiple stakeholders and/or across multiple role identities. We further propose that the extent to which the manager is attentive to the moral aspects of the claims (i.e., moral attentiveness) moderates these effects. We identify several consequences of managerial moral stress and discuss theoretical, empirical, and practical implications of our approach. Most importantly, we argue that this work paves an important path for considering stress through the lens of morality.
Journal of Business Ethics 01/2012; 106(4):491-502. · 0.96 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: It is well understood that moral identity substantially influences moral judgments.
However, occupational identities are also replete with moral content, and individuals
may have multiple occupational identities within a given work role (e.g., engineer
and manager). Consequently, we apply the lenses of moral universalism and moral
particularism to categorize occupational identities and explore their moral prescriptions.
We present and test a model of occupational identities as implicitly held and
dynamically activated knowledge structures, cued by context and containing associated
content about the absolute and/or relationship-dependent moral obligations owed
by an actor to stakeholders. Results from one field study and two situated experiments
with dual-occupation individuals indicate that moral obligations embedded in occupational
identities influence actors’ work role moral judgments in a predictable and
The Academy of Management Journal 01/2012; 55:1316. · 5.61 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We empirically examine the reflexive or automatic aspects of moral decision making. To begin, we develop and validate a measure of an individual's implicit assumption regarding the inherent morality of business. Then, using an in-basket exercise, we demonstrate that an implicit assumption that business is inherently moral impacts day-to-day business decisions and interacts with contextual cues to shape moral behavior. Ultimately, we offer evidence supporting a characterization of employees as reflexive interactionists: moral agents whose automatic decision-making processes interact with the environment to shape their moral behavior.
Journal of Applied Psychology 07/2010; 95(4):752-60. · 4.31 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This research draws from social cognitive theory to develop a construct known as moral attentiveness, the extent to which an individual chronically perceives and considers morality and moral elements in his or her experiences, and proposes that moral attentiveness affects a variety of behaviors. A series of 5 studies with undergraduates, MBA students, and managers were conducted to create and validate a reliable multidimensional scale and to provide evidence that moral attentiveness is associated with (a) the recall and reporting of self- and others' morality-related behaviors, (b) moral awareness, and (c) moral behavior. Results of the studies suggest that moral attentiveness has a significant effect on how individuals understand and act in their moral worlds.
Journal of Applied Psychology 10/2008; 93(5):1027-41. · 4.31 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recognizing limitations in classic cognitive moral development theory, several scholars have drawn from theories of identity to suggest that moral behavior results from both moral judgments and moral identity. The authors conducted 2 survey-based studies with more than 500 students and managers to test this argument. Results demonstrated that moral identity and moral judgments both independently influenced moral behavior. In addition, in situations in which social consensus regarding the moral behavior was not high, moral judgments and moral identity interacted to shape moral behavior. This interaction effect indicated that those who viewed themselves as moral individuals pursued the most extreme alternatives (e.g., never cheating, regularly cheating)--a finding that affirms the motivational power of a moral identity. The authors conclude by considering the implications of this research for both theory and practice.
Journal of Applied Psychology 12/2007; 92(6):1610-24. · 4.31 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The field of business ethics is entrenched in a cognitive approach that portrays the ethical decision-making process as a completely deliberate and reasoned exercise. In light of growing concerns about the veracity of this approach, I build upon current knowledge of how the brain functions to present a neurocognitive model of ethical decision making. The model suggests that ethical decision making involves 2 interrelated yet functionally distinct cycles, a reflexive pattern matching cycle and a higher order conscious reasoning cycle, and thereby describes not only reasoned analysis, but also the intuitive and retrospective aspects of ethical decision making. The model sparks research in new areas, holds significant implications for the study of ethical decision making, and provides suggestions for improving ethical behavior in organizations.
Journal of Applied Psychology 08/2006; 91(4):737-48. · 4.31 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The impact of the role of individual ethical predispositions, preferences for utilitarian and formalistic ideals, on managerial moral awareness was examined in 2 studies. Results suggested that a manager's ethical predispositions influence his or her responses to the characteristics of the moral issue. Both utilitarianism and formalism shaped moral awareness, but formalism demonstrated a greater capacity to do so in that formalists recognized both harm and the violation of a behavioral norm as indicators of the moral issue, whereas utilitarians responded only to harm. These findings provide support for the basic arguments underlying theories of moral development and offer several implications for the study and practice of moral awareness in organizations.
Journal of Applied Psychology 02/2006; 91(1):233-43. · 4.31 Impact Factor