Journal of Academic Ethics

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 45-56

First online:

A Longitudinal Study of the Effectiveness of Business Ethics Education: Establishing the Baseline

  • Donna Fletcher-BrownAffiliated withDepartment of Finance, Bentley University Email author 
  • , Anthony F. BuonoAffiliated withDepartment of Management, Bentley University
  • , Robert FrederickAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, Bentley University
  • , Gregory HallAffiliated withDepartment of Natural and Applied Sciences, Bentley University
  • , Jahangir SultanAffiliated withDepartment of Finance, Bentley University

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This paper is the first phase of a longitudinal study of the class of 2014 on the effectiveness of ethics education at a business university. This phase of the project establishes the baseline attributes of incoming college freshmen with a pretest of the students’ ethical proclivity as measured by Defining Issues Test (DIT-2) scores. The relationship between the students’ ethical reasoning and their behavior in experimental stock trading sessions is then examined. In the trading simulations, randomly selected students were provided with the option of receiving privileged insider information about the final payoff of several stocks. The students could either accept or reject such information, with acceptance considered illegal insider trading. The results of the pretest indicate that moral reasoning as measured by the DIT-2 is related to insider trading behavior, with students with higher DIT-2 scores being less likely to accept insider information. The paper also presents demographic differences across DIT-2 scores and trading behavior as a foundation for the longitudinal examination of changes in students’ moral cognition characteristics and behavior during their undergraduate career.


Business ethics Ethical reasoning Insider trading Stock trading Ethical behavior Longitudinal study