Exposure to Unethical Career Events: Effects on Decision Making, Climate, and Socialization

Ethics and Behavior 19 (5):351-378 (2009)
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Abstract

An implicit goal of many interventions intended to enhance integrity is to minimize peoples' exposure to unethical events. The intent of the present effort was to examine if exposure to unethical practices in the course of one's work is related to ethical decision making. Accordingly, 248 doctoral students in the biological, health, and social sciences were asked to complete a field appropriate measure of ethical decision making. In addition, they were asked to complete measures examining the perceived acceptability of unethical events and a measure examining perceptions of ethical climate. When these criterion measures were correlated with a measure examining the frequency with which they had been exposed to unethical events in their day-to-day work, it was found that event exposure was strongly related to ethical decision making but less strongly related to climate perceptions and perceptions of event acceptability. However, these relationships were moderated by level of experience. The implications of these findings for practices intended to improve ethics are discussed

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