Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 95, Supplement 1, pp 73-87

First online:

In the Moment: The Effect of Mindfulness on Ethical Decision Making

  • Nicole E. RuedyAffiliated withCenter for Leadership and Strategic Thinking, Michael G. Foster School of Business, University of Washington Email author 
  • , Maurice E. SchweitzerAffiliated withOperations and Information Management, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

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Many unethical decisions stem from a lack of awareness. In this article, we consider how mindfulness, an individual’s awareness of his or her present experience, impacts ethical decision making. In our first study, we demonstrate that compared to individuals low in mindfulness, individuals high in mindfulness report that they are more likely to act ethically, are more likely to value upholding ethical standards (self-importance of moral identity, SMI), and are more likely to use a principled approach to ethical decision making (formalism). In our second study, we test this relationship with a novel behavioral measure of unethical behavior: the carbonless anagram method (CAM). We find that of participants who cheated, compared to individuals low in mindfulness, individuals high in mindfulness cheated less. Taken together, our results demonstrate important connections between mindfulness and ethical decision making.


awareness carbonless anagram method cheating consequentialism ethical decision making formalism meditation mindfulness self-importance of moral identity unethical behavior