Teaching Business Ethics

, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 257–268 | Cite as

Incorporating Freud’s Theory on Cognitive Processes into Business Ethics Education

  • E. Waldmann


Most educators in business ethics tend toconcentrate on various philosophical theories and theapplication of these theories to ethical dilemmas. Anumber of pedagogical techniques are often used forthis purpose. These approaches concentrate on(conscious) reasoning and decision making. It is thecontention of this paper that an understanding ofFreudian psychology would help students to develop agreater awareness of the unconscious mechanisms thatsometimes come into play when an individual is facedwith a stressful ethical dilemma. Freud and histheories are widely known and have been influential inthe development of many other theoreticalperspectives. Freud demonstrated the importance ofthe unconscious mind on human behaviour. Included inhis theory was an explanation of how various defensemechanisms such as rationalization anddenial are sometimes (unconsciously) used toalleviate feelings of guilt when an individual isconfronted with a particularly stressful moraldilemma. The paper offers suggestions on how egodefense mechanisms can be incorporated into businessethics education.

ethics education business psychology unconscious mind Freud ego defense mechanisms 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Waldmann
    • 1
  1. 1.Monash UniversityWheelers HillAustralia

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