Mindfulness, Moral Reasoning and Responsibility: Towards Virtue in Ethical Decision-Making

  • Cherise Small
  • Charlene LewEmail author
Original Paper


Ethical decision-making is a multi-faceted phenomenon, and our understanding of ethics rests on diverse perspectives. While considering how leaders ought to act, scholars have created integrated models of moral reasoning processes that encompass diverse influences on ethical choice. With this, there has been a call to continually develop an understanding of the micro-level factors that determine moral decisions. Both rationalist, such as moral processing, and non-rationalist factors, such as virtue and humanity, shape ethical decision-making. Focusing on the role of moral judgement and moral intent in moral reasoning, this study asks what bearings a trait of mindfulness and a sense of moral responsibility may have on this process. A survey measuring mindfulness, moral responsibility and moral judgement completed by 171 respondents was used for four hypotheses on moral judgement and intent in relation to moral responsibility and mindfulness. The results indicate that mindfulness predict moral responsibility but not moral judgement. Moral responsibility does not predict moral judgement, but moral judgement predicts moral intent. The findings give further insight into the outcomes of mindfulness and expand insights into the models of ethical decision-making. We offer suggestions for further research on the role of mindfulness and moral responsibility in ethical decision-making.


Moral reasoning Mindfulness Moral responsibility 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Cherise Small and Charlene Lew declares that they have no conflict of interest in submitting this paper to the Journal of Business Ethics.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee, and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Gordon Institute of Business ScienceUniversity of Pretoria, South AfricaIllovo, SandtonSouth Africa

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