Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 82, Issue 1, pp 1–26 | Cite as

Intelligence Vs. Wisdom: The Love of Money, Machiavellianism, and Unethical Behavior across College Major and Gender

  • Thomas Li-Ping TangEmail author
  • Yuh-Jia Chen


This research investigates the efficacy of business ethics intervention, tests a theoretical model that the love of money is directly or indirectly related to propensity to engage in unethical behavior (PUB), and treats college major (business vs. psychology) and gender (male vs. female) as moderators in multi-group analyses. Results suggested that business students who received business ethics intervention significantly changed their conceptions of unethical behavior and reduced their propensity to engage in theft; while psychology students without intervention had no such changes. Therefore, ethics training had some impacts on business students’ learning and education (intelligence). For our theoretical model, results of the whole sample (N = 298) revealed that Machiavellianism (measured at Time 1) was a mediator of the relationship between the love of money (measured at Time 1) and unethical behavior (measured at Time 2) (the Love of Money → Machiavellianism → Unethical Behavior). Further, this mediating effect existed for business students (n = 198) but not for psychology students (n = 100), for male students (n = 165) but not for female students (n = 133), and for male business students (n = 128) but not for female business students (n = 70). Moreover, when examined alone, the direct effect (the Love of Money → Unethical Behavior) existed for business students but not for psychology students. We concluded that a short business ethics intervention may have no impact on the issue of virtue (wisdom).


intelligence wisdom love of money Machiavellianism unethical behavior business ethics education college major (business vs. psychology) gender moderator 


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An earlier version of this paper was presented at the␣Academy of Management Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA, August 3–8, 2007. The authors would like to thank Middle Tennessee State University for the financial support of this research project. The senior author would like to thank the late Kuan Ying Tang and the late Fang Chen Chu Tang

for their encouragement, Dean E. James Burton, the late Fr. Wiatt Funk, Fr. John B. C. O’Neill, Toto Sutarso, and Larry Howard for their suggestions, Bishop David Choby, Fr. James Kallarackan, Robert Dray, and Richard Leggatt for their encouragement, and Janice Reeves, Sally Govan, and James Van Buren for their assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Management and Marketing, College Of BusinessMiddle Tennessee State UniversityMurfreesboroU.S.A.
  2. 2.Rinker School of BusinessPalm Beach Atlantic UniversityWest Palm BeachU.S.A.

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