Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 115, Issue 3, pp 531–553 | Cite as

The Bright and Dark Sides of Religiosity Among University Students: Do Gender, College Major, and Income Matter?



We develop a theoretical model involving religiosity [intrinsic (I), extrinsic-social (E s), and extrinsic-personal (E p), Time 1], Machiavellianism (Time 2), and propensity to engage in unethical behavior (Time 2) to investigate direct and indirect paths. We collected two-wave panel data from 359 students who had some work experiences. For the whole sample, intrinsic religiosity (I) indirectly curbed unethical intentions through the absence of Machiavellianism, the bright side of religiosity. Both extrinsic-social (E s) and extrinsic-personal (E p) directly, while extrinsic-social (E s) indirectly, exacerbated unethical intentions, the dark side of religiosity. Multiple-group analyses across gender, college major, and income showed that the bright side existed directly for low-income students, but indirectly for males and females, business majors, and low-income students. Our novel finding showed that E p undermined unethical intentions indirectly for females. For the dark side, E s incited unethical intentions directly for males, business students, and low-income individuals, but indirectly for females, psychology majors, and low-income people. The Machiavellianism–unethical intentions relationship was the strongest for high-income participants. Religiosity had the highest number of significant paths for low-income individuals and the strongest dark side for males and high-income students, but the highest bright outcome for females. Our novel, original findings foster theory development and testing, add new vocabulary to the conversation of religiosity and unethical intentions, and improve practice.


Religiosity Religious Orientation Scale Machiavellianism Unethical intentions Theft Corruption Deception Gender Major Income ASPIRE 



The authors would like to thank late Fr. Wiatt Funk, Fr. Mark Sappenfield (St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, Murfreesboro, TN), and Fr. Dave Heney (St. Paschal Baylon Catholic Church, Thousand Oaks, CA) for their inspiration.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Rinker School of BusinessPalm Beach Atlantic UniversityWest Palm BeachUSA
  2. 2.Department of Management and Marketing, Jennings A. Jones College of BusinessMiddle Tennessee State UniversityMurfreesboroUSA

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