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Consideration of Moral Intensity in Ethicality Judgements: Its Relationship with Whistle-blowing and Need-for-Cognition

Abstract

Within the theoretical framework of the moral intensity model of ethical decision making (Jones, 1991), two studies ascertained the contention that ethicality judgements are contingent upon the perceived intensity of the moral issue. In addition, Study 1 extended the validity of the moral intensity notion to whistle-blowing behaviour; Study 2 addressed the effect of the individual difference variable, need-for-cognition, on differential utilization of intensity dimensions in the ethical decision process. A scenario approach was used in both studies. Results have provided convergent support for the issue-contingency nature of ethical decisions. Study 1 also showed that felt empathy for potential victims predicted the likelihood of whistle-blowing behaviour, and that the perceived overall ethicality of a wrongdoing predicted felt empathy when potential victims are psychologically and physically close. Results of Study 2 further suggested a greater utilization of issue-relevant information by high need-for-cognition individuals in ethical decision making.

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Singer, M., Mitchell, S. & Turner, J. Consideration of Moral Intensity in Ethicality Judgements: Its Relationship with Whistle-blowing and Need-for-Cognition. Journal of Business Ethics 17, 527–541 (1998). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1005765926472

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Keywords

  • Decision Making
  • Economic Growth
  • Decision Process
  • Individual Difference
  • Ethical Decision