Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 51, Issue 3, pp 245-267

First online:

A Managerial In-Basket Study of the Impact of Trait Emotions on Ethical Choice

  • Shane ConnellyAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Oklahoma
  • , Whitney Helton-FauthAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Oklahoma
  • , Michael D. MumfordAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Oklahoma

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


This paper explores the relationship of various trait emotions to the ethical choices of 189 college students who completed a managerial decision-making task as part of an in-basket exercise in a laboratory setting. Prior research regarding emotion influences on ethical decision-making and linkages between emotions and cognition informed hypotheses about how different types of emotions impact ethical choices. Findings supported our expectations that positive and negative emotions classified as active would be more strongly related to interpersonally-directed ethical choices than to organizationally-directed ones, and that passive emotions would be less related to ethical choices than active emotions. Implications for ethical decision-making research and organizational practices are discussed.

active and passive emotions emotions and cognition ethical choices interpersonally-directed ethical choices organizationally-directed ethical choices trait emotions and ethical choices trait emotions and managerial decisions