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In the Moment: The Effect of Mindfulness on Ethical Decision Making

Abstract

Many unethical decisions stem from a lack of awareness. In this article, we consider how mindfulness, an individual’s awareness of his or her present experience, impacts ethical decision making. In our first study, we demonstrate that compared to individuals low in mindfulness, individuals high in mindfulness report that they are more likely to act ethically, are more likely to value upholding ethical standards (self-importance of moral identity, SMI), and are more likely to use a principled approach to ethical decision making (formalism). In our second study, we test this relationship with a novel behavioral measure of unethical behavior: the carbonless anagram method (CAM). We find that of participants who cheated, compared to individuals low in mindfulness, individuals high in mindfulness cheated less. Taken together, our results demonstrate important connections between mindfulness and ethical decision making.

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Correspondence to Nicole E. Ruedy.

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Ruedy, N.E., Schweitzer, M.E. In the Moment: The Effect of Mindfulness on Ethical Decision Making. J Bus Ethics 95, 73–87 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-011-0796-y

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Keywords

  • awareness
  • carbonless anagram method
  • cheating
  • consequentialism
  • ethical decision making
  • formalism
  • meditation
  • mindfulness
  • self-importance of moral identity
  • unethical behavior